Category: Volunteer Experiences
Melissa Evans shares some of her experiences of getting to know the children and the impact of Open Arms through volunteering in Malawi.
A diverse team of volunteers from across the UK have been working with the children of Open Arms over the last few months. On top of the many bottles of milk given to the babies, and the hours spent with the children during playtimes, there have been special events around the themes of the Olympics and the Lake of Stars music festival for the children in our Foster Houses, thanks to some teaching backgrounds within the volunteer group which helped to bring this together.
The babies, toddlers and the foster children all so enjoyed Charlie’s friendly nature, as he rolled up his sleeves and got stuck into all the day-to-day activities; from feeding tiny babies their porridge to playing games with toddlers; and from to tutoring the older children in maths to sorting out and organising the cupboards.
For many in our group, this is the first experience of living without electricity and running water, of using pit latrines and sleeping without beds on cold, hard floors. We learn to fetch water from the distant wells and carry it up the hillside on our heads many times throughout the day.
For some, the trip is a welcome return and a chance to visit the children they met as babies who have returned to their village homes and now attend school. For others, this has been their first chance to see for themselves the Infant Home, Feeding Stations and Granny Houses that JnJ has built over the last ten years.
I arrived at Open Arms Infant Home in Blantrye, Malawi three weeks ago and will be volunteering here for the next few months. This is truly a special place. I have not only fallen in love with the kids, but also with the concept and sustainability of the organization.
I visited to Malawi for three weeks in August. My first week was a wonderful week of volunteering at Open Arms in Blantyre. I can say that those three weeks were the most memorable and absolutely fantastic time of my life so far. I had never been to Africa before, and (ignoring the cliché!) loved every second.