Every 1-7 August, the world commemorates World Breastfeeding Week. The theme for this year’s week is “empower parents, enable breastfeeding”. Breastfeeding is a vital part of providing every child with the healthiest start to life.
Mulanje district is known for its tea estates and is home to the highest mountain in Malawi. Yohane Kajawo, 17, is lucky to see this landscape every day. There are views of mountain waterfalls from his village, in addition to the vibrant green of the tea plantations. And, less than a kilometer from his home is Ngangala Primary School. Here you witness another sea of green, as hundreds of children are dressed in their bright green uniforms.
Linley Manda, 30, remembers the night of March 9, 2019 like it was yesterday. She was woken up at 12am by heavy rains at her home in Nsanje district. She saw water entering her house and quickly rising. She started to scream and woke up her children with her husband. The children were crying and shouting for help. They fled to a nearby school for safety, away from the rising waters.
Mphunzi Primary School is in Mphunzi village, in a remote part of Dedza. In the rainy season, the weather is cool and is surrounded by green hills with breathtaking scenery. Despite the beauty students see on a daily basis, the school’s isolation has left it without access to clean water for years.
The empty airfield, while devoid of planes, feels full of life and excitement. The breeze keeps a tattered orange wind sock moving. And in the distance, the sounds of young people playing at a nearby school fills the air, reminding everyone why we're here.
Tadala Sempani, 21, stands proudly at Chinamvuu Secondary School ground with a group of children who have just received scholarships from the Secondary Education Trust Fund. Her face is wearing a massive smile. It is a day to remember for her. Just a couple of months ago she thought her chances of continuing her secondary education were over.
It is mid-morning at Mdeka health center. The hospital yard is full of people. They are women with babies on their backs men helping patients off bicycle taxis and others busking in the morning sun waiting for their turn to be seen by the clinicians.
The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre.
It was the middle of the night on 7 March when Annie decided to flee her home with her children, including baby Ndaziona, who had been born just two days before. It had been raining for four days, the nearby Shire river was rising and the family’s mud brick and straw house was becoming precarious.
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.