A message from Malawi!

April 17, 2014 at 3:26 PM

Service Coordinator at the College, Mr Mark Robinson, is currently in Malawi with World Vision as part of a scoping trip to identify community to community partnership opportunities for schools and, in particular, Saint Kentigern. Read about his trip and take a look at his photos from his travels so far.

After a long journey, I arrived tired but pleased to finally be here. Jetlag is never easy to deal with, especially when you need to ‘hit the ground running!’ After a little sleep, my first day began with shared devotions at the World Vision office for the staff of around 40 people. We met to talk about plans for our trip and then set off for the day.

Our first stop was Chogodi village where we went to the secondary school to meet with staff and the chief. The school faces many challenges but can also count its successes. Teenage pregnancy is the biggest challenge and being a mother at 15 years of age is not easy. Many girls are marrying at 15-16 and have little future or hope.

The school itself has no furniture. There are 80 in a small, rough classroom where the students sit on the floor – most have walked for an hour or more to get there.  There is no power, no sports gear….the list goes on.

I spoke to the assembly which was fun. The girls and boys were really engaging. No one knew where New Zealand is and they had lots of questions to ask – like how come we have so many sheep and cows! We left some soccer balls and pens for the boys and girls but sadly there were not enough pens to go around which was disappointing for all.

We had lunch in a village hall at the next village. Hmm…I’m not too sure but it was chicken and rice and I’m more unsure what else there was but it was tasty! The hall is used as a medical centre that largely deals with cases of malaria. There was a little baby of 8 months old suffering from malaria with a high fever. The baby was in agony but the centre only had malaria tablets to offer, nothing for pain or hydration. As they sent the mother away, I raided my first aid kit for Panodol, Enerlyte and medication for diarrhoea. A baby should not be in pain. This is only day one, I didn’t find this easy.

At the next village I met two ‘famine focus’ children – supported by proceeds from the 40 Hour Famine. This was the same village that Old Collegian and World Vision Youth Ambassador, Letitia Puni visited. I was welcomed into a home, it was an eye-opener for me. A mud hut with a 20 litre water container, a bamboo mat and a single pot as their only possessions. They were malnourished and their clothes were rags – yet they welcomed us in and they were all as friendly as could be. There was mum, dad and three children under seven.

Young Mike was six but looked about three. He walks an hour to school each day. It is almost beyond my comprehension how they survive yet their spirit is resolute and like any parent in the world, they strive for the best for their children. I found whatever food I had in my backpack and brought back to the house. It felt like a pathetic and embarrassing offering yet I felt I needed to make the gesture. I am organising a 50kg bag of maize flour to be delivered and some fertiliser for the family; it should make a difference. 

This was my first day. I am tired but satisfied – but also a little bit disturbed by what I have seen so far. I have been to three small villages and seen their daily struggles to survive. World Vision and other charities like them do an enormous amount of work to try and alleviate suffering and put programmes in place for clean water and sanitation to help build better lives for those whose daily life is a struggle. It is my hope that our students get right behind World Vision’s 40 Hour Famine again this year to help families like these.




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