In the outskirts of the city of Lilongwe, lie rural areas where families struggle to meet basic needs. This is where 2-year-old Gladys Manuel lives, in Chikuse village TA Malili. She is the second born in the family of two. Her mother, Rita Luwe (23 years old) got divorced when Gladys was only 9 months old. Life has not been easy for a young single mother to take care of the two children.
A good Samaritan in the name of a family friend one day showed up at Chikondi Phiri’s (not her real name) house. The man promised to look after Chikondi and cater for her school needs including tuition and other school necessities.
Early marriage is still a big problem in Malawi. An estimated 46 percent of girls in Malawi get married before they reach the age of 18 years and about nine percent get married before the age of 15.
On a bright Thursday morning some fifty or so women gather at Machinga District Hospital in Southern Malawi for a weekly ritual. They bring their children whose ages range from about a year to four years old. In front of the room two hospital staff are attending to the children- checking charts, doing tests and sending them off for appropriate assistance, medication or supplies.
There was a time when 51-year-old tomato farmer, Philemon Kanema Banda, used to care about the perceptions of his community on the role of men in raising children. The unwritten rules and norms on what was expected of men and women used to bother Philemon a lot.
When she got the message through her pastor at church one Saturday morning, Elida Ntanga, 37, of Kunenekude village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kanduku, planned not to miss the Child Health Days campaign which Mwanza District was planning to conduct. This was to ensure that her 2-year-old baby, Brian, benefits from the services to be offered at Kunenekude Health Centre.
Soft-spoken Jausa Silika, 38, is someone every ambitious girl child looks up to in Mkata Village, T/A Chowe in Mangochi. Trained as community nursing and midwife, she helps mothers deliver 70 live babies in a month at Malombe Health Centre, located 41 kilometres East of Mangochi Town.
The area of Havala at Chisi in Zomba district suffered flood disaster that did not only wash away homes of residents, it also washed away dreams, hopes and aspirations of children of the area most of whom go to Havala Primary School.
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.
Agness Nyirongo is a 62-year-old grandmother. She shares her two-roomed grass thatched house in Mlongoti village, Rumphi District in northern Malawi with two of her children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Located just a few kilometres from the main town, Mlongoti is a poor village full of small houses. Just like Agness’ family, most of the families in this village earn a living from subsistence farming.