A few weeks ago, I was talking with someone at a funeral. Now an adult, she told me that when she was nine, she lost her mother, and then about a year later, her father. Then she said she was very fortunate because the very week that her father died, her oldest sibling, a brother, completed his high school schooling. That meant he could get a job, which he did, and support his six younger sisters! She spoke with great love for her brother and later his wife because they made a loving home so that the family was able to stay together and pull through.
Many children are not so lucky. I have no idea how many orphanages there are in Malawi, but there are signs for them in many places in Blantyre, and when we drive out into the country, there are even many more signs.
Several months ago, during a community planning meeting for Helping Hands, one of the Blantyre district councilmen approached the Church and asked if we could help out with some of the orphanges in his district. Since last March, we have been storing some cooking oil and bags of dehydrated soy relish in our garage, the remains of our humanitarian project to bring food to the camps of displaced Malawians after the torrential floods of last year. Unfortunately,at that time, we were forced to leave the undistributed bags of maize and cowpeas in a warehouse in Chickwawa, never to be seen again or accounted for. But at least we had something we could contribute to the orphanages which were located in Ndirande.
Last Friday, President Matale, our new district president, rode with us as we went and picked up a representative from the Council and the secretary (with a small baby) to show us the way and to accompany us with the distribution.
President Matale helping us load up the car.
When we reached our first stop, we had a welcoming party!
Frenaso, Friends of Ndirande AIDS Support Organization
They return at the end of the day to their homes. Each child has lost at least one parent and is living with remaining parent or with a guardian. The district secretary who accompanied us is walking behind George.
The lovely lady in red and yellow was so appreciative and made us feel extremely welcome.
We had come on a national holiday (Mother's Day) so there were far fewer children in attendance. Normally, the school has an enrollment of fifty.
The district councilman says a few words.
You can tell that President Matale is an old hand at this. He has been in charge of Public Affairs for the Church in Malawi for several years.
The ages of the children range from 2 to 5 years old.
This was quite an exciting day for them!
This was a much larger school and a much nicer building. The orphan school is one of three built and sponsored by the Blantyre Synod (CCAP - Central Church of Africa Presbyterian).
Just as families are struggling to have enough food this year due to the flooding during the maize growing season, schools and orphanages are also struggling to have enough food.
Normally, this school has 165 children come during the day. There are four classes, one for each year of ages two through five.
Look at this sweetie on the end carrying her "baby" on her back. It's not that common to see a toy.
The children entertained us with some music.
I, in turn, taught them "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes".
Even the youngest were having a good time.
We just love the little dresses that the small girls wear. They are frequently oversized and consequently fall off their shoulders.
These are such beautiful children. I'm so glad they have a place to go where people will teach them and take care of them. What a wonderful service so many people provide.
You know - "It takes a village".