Its been our final week in Mzimba and we’ve been busy completing projects and saying some sad farewells to the people we have been working with during our placement.

We visited Kualira and gave them seeds for vegetables which they have planted into a nursery, in preparation for their new garden. We helped plant Moringa seeds into poly tubes to start the process of growing the miracle trees for the children’s centre. We then got to work on painting two black boards and cleaning their small existing board, which will now give the teachers much more room to write and make the work more easily visible for the children.

We sat down with the volunteers and ran through a new routine, dividing the space that they have into three areas and listing activities they could do with the children in each area. The aim is to split the children into three groups based on age and learning ability and rotate them around the areas throughout the day.

The volunteers seemed very keen to try this new structure and said they now understand how they can meet the curriculum, which they never understood before. We explained that it would utilise their building space better, maximise the children’s learning, as they are in smaller groups, as well as making the jobs of the volunteers easier as they will have less children to manage at one time.

Young people at youth centre in Malawi

We had our final visit to the youth group, who we have been working very closely with since the start of our project. We’ve seen the group come a long way, improving their confidence, friendships and knowledge of HIV - which they’ve been able to pass on to members of our new children’s centre.

During our last session we finished off the SAVE boards which give a clear picture of what the SAVE model means, through the use of illustrations for each of the letters. We presented the youth group with a scrapbook which is a collection of their poems, songs and raps about HIV as well as information on the disease, and pictures of the great work they have been doing during our time in Mzimba.

We left a space at the front of the book for them to write their mission statement. We brainstormed reasons that they came to the youth group, and what their aims are. We looked back to the sheets they wrote on one of our first sessions to help them see what each person was hoping to get from attending the youth group. They wrote a mission statement and some aims, which helped to focus the group and allows them to realise the great work they already do together. They thanked us and told us how grateful they were for the work we’ve done with them and assured us that they didn’t see our departure as the end of a friendship.

During the second week of our children’s centre, Future Vision, we have seen some very positive work which has left us confident about the sustainability of the centre when we return to the UK. The children have been engaged in sports, card games, arts and crafts and song and dance.

On Tuesday we had a meeting with the youth from different religious groups and explained about the children’s centre and how they could get involved. This resulted in some new, much needed volunteers to look after the 304 children that we now have registered at the centre.

We have been teaching about HIV through the use of games to get the children more involved. They took the information in really well and at the end of each session the children gather together and present any work they may want to, or teach the rest of the group what they have learnt in the session. All of the children seem to really enjoy the centre and the way it mixes play with learning. It has been very well received and it has given the youth a new confidence, pride and ownership for something in their community.

By ICS Progressio volunteer Charlotte Isaac.