In the final week of our placement we began working on our personal project. Over the time we have spent in Mdeka we reviewed what the community really needed and those who we felt deserved a change in their life.
We worked with a Child Protection Officer who introduced us to three sets of orphans living in our area. After speaking to the children and examining their situation we began making up care packages. All the children were in desperate need of new clothes in order to go to school; Progressio volunteers donated clothes, shoes and school supplies like books and pencils. The same type of care packages were made up for the elderly and sick, customised to each person’s need. Every care package also came with a new blanket, mat for sleeping on, soap, salt, sugar and body lotion.
We also worked with youth groups from two local schools, teaching lessons on HIV and later took them to a carpenter and a welder to learn vocational schools. After 5 weeks of vocational training we asked the carpenter and welder who the most outstanding pupils were and decided to offer a type of scholarship. Secondary School in Malawi has set fees for each term and due to the extreme poverty many families cannot afford to send their children. We used some of our personal project money to pay two years of school fees for these pupils and ensure they finish school. For one boy who had not yet graduated to secondary school we paid for the welder to continue teaching him skills and vocational lessons, so upon leaving school he can start his own business.
Volunteers also felt uneasy leaving Thoko (the orphan we had previously built a house for) with no real way to support his family. After much deliberation with our Malawian counterparts over what would be sustainable we agreed to give Thoko a pig farming business. Volunteers split into two groups, one to build a pig pen and the other to find some pigs. The pig pen was finished in just a day and the pigs were safely delivered to their new home. Although Thoko cannot return to school, he can now support his family in the future.
After meeting with an elderly woman called Bessie, volunteers decided that we could not stand by and refuse to help her out of her situation. Bessie had given her house to her daughter and her young family and was now living in an outhouse with one bamboo wall separating her from a family of pigs. Although last minute, we decided that we had to build Bessie somewhere to live. Quickly finding a local builder and supplies we began building the new house, hopefully finishing with only one day left in the village.
Written by Aoife Grace Moore