The children had a playroom which they could visit but those that were bed bound struggled to get there and so many of the children wanted to read and those that were slightly older wanted to continue their studies. We were able to source a range of books that the children could borrow during their stay at the hospital. Being able to see the children’s faces as they chose books and sat and read them with their parents was something I will treasure forever.
Whilst out in Malawi, Charlie helped to set up the Cape Maclear Child Protection Committee which safeguards and supports the children in the village. During 2018, Charlie and I witnessed first-hand the amazing work that they do as we helped the committee to get a child prostitute back to her own child and saw them continue to support her to make sure she was safe and well.
I have been incredibly lucky to have seen amazing projects run by even more amazing people, but there is one place I hold closest to my heart – the Mango Tree Nursery School. Elizabeth, Lorraine and the other women who work there have the most remarkable and uplifting spirits and they welcome you into their Nursery Family with open arms. The children are the same – every day they greet you with the most infectious smile. Whilst working at Mango Tree Nursery I met more teachers from the linked Nursery School in Thyolo as they came to stay at Cape Maclear to work with us. Again, no surprises because they are some of the most amazing women I have ever met. We spent the mornings teaching the children and supporting the teachers in implementing new ideas and in the afternoon, we spent time teaching them the principles of phonics. The English language is hard enough to learn as an English speaker but to learn it as a second language is no mean feat, however, as with everything they took to it with laughter and enthusiasm. We had a great time and every day we laughed and compared differences in the languages. The teachers would then the following day teach the children the phonics they had learnt in the previous afternoon. They came up with great ways to implement the phonics- lots of which I have used in my own classroom this past year!
When I first visited Malawi in 2016 Mango Tree Nursery was a wooden structure with a blackboard and a few tables, when I visited again in 2017 an entirely new brick building was under construction and the children were being taught under a pergola like structure. In 2018 the new nursery building was complete. It had 2 classrooms with tables and chairs, blackboards and a play area for the children. This summer Lucy, Charlie and I were given the huge responsibility of painting the nursery. I’m not sure we realised what a big job this was- but nevertheless 3 days and a lot of singing and dancing later we finished the painting! It was the most rewarding and fulfilling moment to see the teachers and children walk in and see the paintings.
This only touches the surface of the wonderful projects being supported by Changing Stars Malawi and doesn’t by any means do the beauty and warmth of the country justice. I think everyone who has the chance to visit this country falls in love with the people and its beauty. I feel honoured to have been involved in a range of projects and to have met so many incredible people. I cannot wait to return to Malawi and see the continued impact of Changing Stars in the years to come.