The timing could hardly have been worse. Just a few weeks before Malawi’s staple maize crop was due to be harvested, heavy rains swept through the southern part of the country, taking with them the yet-to-be-collected grain, thousands of houses and cutting off access to some areas; dozens were killed.
During her time at the orphanage, Maria Vasco would cry for no apparent reason. The toddler was so miserable, some even considered her troublesome.“When visitors came she would cry all day because people would play with the younger children and not bother with Maria,” says Rex Mbewe, the orphanage matron.
Kitty Yobe used to struggle to make ends meet. The mother of six grew maize and pigeon peas on her small plot of land in Balaka, in Malawi’s south. But unpredictable rains meant she could never grow enough to last out the year and her family would sometimes go for days without food.
Nkhope Primary School is located in the lakeshore district of Mangochi, which is known for its chambo fish and beautiful beaches. Despite the picturesque setting, child advocates say it is important the school is a safe space for children.
Having a secondary school bursary is something that most girls in Malawi dream of. In a country where poverty rates are high, many girls fail to finish secondary school. Ellen Rajab, who studies at Mpondasi Community Day Secondary School, is one of the lucky ones. She is a confident, outgoing girl. As she sits on the white sandy beach by the side of Lake Malawi on a sunny afternoon, she enthusiastically explains how far she has come.
It’s the middle of the rainy season in Malawi. The countryside is green and many households are happy to see better rainfall than last year. However, the effects of last year’s poor harvest are still being felt. Many families in Nankumba village in Mangochi district do not have enough food to feed their children. One of these families is Cecilia Martin’s. Food insecurity has led to her one-and-a-half-year-old baby girl, Viola, to suffer from severe malnutrition.
It’s a cold day in Shandong, China. The skies are grey and the grass is far from green. Dressed in a heavy pink winter coat, Sarah Mvula walks through university campus on the way to her dormitory. She is a prospective medical student at Shandong University. It is a dream come true for her.
The sprawling campus of Chancellor College is on the edge of Malawi’s former capital city. It is only 120 kms from the villages of Mangochi, but it feels like a world away. Tiffany Kapanda, 18, is a former UNICEF scholar from Mangochi, now studying at Chancellor College.
As a field coordinator for an agency dedicated to empowering women and children, Phillipina Nkota is passionate about teaching young people how to stand up to violence and abuse.
Every week Nkota and her colleagues, who work for Ujamaa Pamodzi Africa, a non-government organization, visit primary schools in Mangochi.
Masuku Primary School is located near the Chiponde Mozambique border in Mangochi district. The school has a population of 2000 students, who attend the school from nearby villages. One of these students is Amina Banda (not her real name). She lives with her grandmother in Nakapa village along with her two siblings.