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.
Chilumba Secondary School is located within the hills of Salima, bordering Dedza District. To get to the school, one has to endure a rocky, hilly ride on mountainous terrain that is even more difficult to navigate in the rainy season. The school is in an isolated area, with little activity and far from essential social services such as hospitals.
Chikwawa district, in Southern Malawi was one of the hardest hit by the March 2019 floods. The area consists of low-lying plains, making it vulnerable to flooding every rainy season. Jacqueline Devison, 21, is no stranger to this.
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.
On a drizzling morning in Phalombe district, Malawi, mothers and their children gather at a village clinic for growth monitoring appointments for the children. The clinic is located on a mountain and is surrounded by grassy plains and a forest. Tawina Mawindo is here with her 4-year-old son, Boniface Masiye.
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.
For Manesi Fanuwelo, 33, the thought of losing another child to malnutrition was unbearable. In 2007, Fanuwelo, from Nkhwazi village in Chikwawa, Malawi, lost a son to the condition. The young boy was about to reach his third birthday when he died. And now, her 10-month-old daughter, Laima, was showing the same symptoms that killed her brother.
Beata Bignos was shaken when she saw her child’s feet, stomach, and cheeks were swelling. He had kwashiorkor, a severe form of acute malnutrition. After being treated at Gabriel’s Hospital in Namitete in rural Lilongwe, her son, Yosefe, is now healthy and bouncy again, as should every 2-year-old.
n many rural Malawian households, adequate nutritious meals are not readily available. Over the past few years, drought and flooding have also affected food production, reducing the already small and undiversified food portions of the poor.