Building Futures in Malawi

EVENT: Building Futures Malawi

AUTHOR: Julia Marsden

Once I had committed myself to the trip to Malawi, I knew that it was going to be a very rewarding and inspiring experience, but at the same time an emotional and challenging endeavor. My core motivation for becoming involved with Retrak was to make a difference, albeit in a minor way, to children who have been forced to live on the streets.

I felt so privileged to visit a community in Malawi that Retrak have worked so hard with. The women within this village now understand the importance of education for their children and strive to communicate and work together to achieve the very best for the young people, despite incredibly challenging circumstances. The village leaders too, were keen to learn from my experiences of teaching in the UK.

The most challenging aspect of my trip was to say goodbye to all of the children, and whilst the language barrier was frustrating, the staff at Chisomo Children’s Club were always on hand to help out with translations. The highlight of the trip was meeting children with such a positive outlook on life, despite very few possessions and devastating circumstances. Words cannot describe the joy on those children’s faces as they excitedly plunged into Lake Malawi whilst on a day trip out. To those children, water is such a precious gift.

Differences between the teaching in the UK and Malawi are stark, not only with the availability of resources, but also with class sizes. After being greeted with a class size of 370 in one village, I will never again moan about marking 25 maths books! However, it was delightful to witness the pupils’ eagerness to learn and their desperate desire to better themselves. Retrak continue to work so hard in Africa to promote street children’s right to an education. I certainly have not been born into this world to allow other human beings to continue to live in such poverty.

Now I have returned from Malawi, there are many experiences I will share with my students at Hesketh House. I am thrilled that there is now a permanent link between my school and Chisomo as I created a dedicated Art Corner. Many of the street children who have suffered abuse or trauma are able to express themselves through art but the centre is in desperate need of simple resources like paintbrushes and paper, that we so often take for granted. Hesketh House is a school full of caring and compassionate children. The girls, as well as their families have totally supported my vision in helping these children in Malawi to build a brighter future. I was greeted on the playground on my return by children keen to find out how my trip had gone. They all demonstrated ongoing commitment to helping me reach my fundraising target! I will certainly continue to support the aims of Retrak in helping to create better futures for innocent children.