William Lifa is a 19-year-old boy from M’bawa Village in Balaka. He’s a happy boy, with a contagious smile. He also has a lot to smile about. He was lucky enough to get a visit from The Minister of Gender, Mary Navicha who came to congratulate him on his selection to University after passing his Malawi Secondary Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations with 10 points.
lina Daniel is a bubbly 38-year-old mother. She resides in Mb’awa village in Balaka district with her husband and four children. Alina’s husband is disabled, and she weaves mats for sale as the family’s main source of income. In fact, outside their home there are plenty of mats that are visible. The opportunity to start the mats business was made possible when the family was put on the Social Cash Transfer Programme in 2014.
Rosena Chakwathu is a health surveillance assistant at Nsanje District Hospital in southern Malawi. She provides health services to under-five children in villages around the hospital. Rosena has worked in Nsanje for 27 years. She has been trained to support the delivery of development programmes, including the SCTP. Rosena believes that one of the biggest challenges in the district is children dropping out of school.
One, two, three, four. She counts the MK2,000 notes from her envelope. She pauses, shakes her head and lifts her chin slightly. She puts the money back in her envelope, grabs her walking stick and starts to leave as her face breaks into a huge smile, relief drawn all over it. This is Steria Tomas, from T/A Mwambo in Zomba district. She is aged 70 and is one of the victims of the March 2019 floods which displaced 86,976 households and killed at least 56 people across 15 affected districts.
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.
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.
Mwandida Kazembe has one job: ensuring her four children have enough to eat. It’s not an easy task. The family has struggled since her husband’s death seven years ago. Farming is Mwandida’s only source of food; she grows maize on a small garden plot.
In a good year, she harvests five bags of maize, enough to feed her family for about five months. However, there haven’t been enough good years lately so she’s had to make do with just two or three bags each year. “The rain is unpredictable, it comes late or too little,” says Mwandida.
Today, on Saturday 23 June, Malawi is commemorating the International Day of People with Albinism. Unfortunately, people with albinism in Malawi are living in fear, following a series of violent attacks. The situation is worse for children because they are the most vulnerable and therefore the most targeted.
Mde Chida and her husband grow maize and groundnuts to sustain their six children. Most of what they harvest, they eat. Sometimes they sell a little to pay for household essentials.