Vulnerable babies are referred
Referred babies are often in desperate need of help. Once at Open Arms they receive medical care, shelter and nourishment. Vital support in their early years means they can grow up healthy ready to return to their families.
Returning fit and healthy children to their families
Guardians are encouraged to visit while their children are at Open Arms to keep the family bonds strong. When a child is ready to go back home, we invite the guardian to come to stay at Open Arms for a few days. This is a chance to teach their guardian our daily routine and help the child adjust to their new way of life.
In the grounds of Open Arms we have a traditional house, which is similar to what many of our children will go home to. Here the child and guardian will stay for a few days until the child is comfortable with their new home environment.
When they do go home, they are given the essentials for a good start. These include a blanket, mosquito net, their favourite toy, clothes and 25kg of Likuni Phala (a nutrient rich maize and soya porridge).
300 families are monitored through our community outreach programme
Our team will visit families and monitor the children who have returned home from Open Arms. Providing advice, medicines and food until children are settled and the families can support them, it is essential to support a child's return to their family. The families who are most at need, can receive extra sponsorship and support from Open Arms if needed.
Communities are often very poor and rely on farming for food and income. To help ease the burden on the families who are looking after an extra child, we deliver annual packs of maize seed and fertiliser to the families and community based organisations that look after children who have been in our care.
Due to the lack of nutrition, almost 50% of children under five in Malawi have stunted growth. Without help such as these packs the statistics would be worse.
500 children get a nursery education and daily meal at our nine nursery schools
Sometimes, in rural villages there are no education facilities and so we have built Nursery Schools in partnership with the community. This is a place where children can receive free basic nursery education. And just as importantly they get a hot nutritious meal every day. This can be the only meal that a child gets in a day and so it is essential for development and growth.
We work closely with the village leaders to build the Nursery and then hand it over to be run by the local community. A teacher, an assistant and food will be paid for by Open Arms, but the village own and run the schools. We currently support nine Nursery Schools, reaching an estimated 514 children every day.
They have become an invaluable resource to local communities who are also encouraged to use them for activities that benefit the whole village (such as adult literacy and health testing).
Five foster families are home to 35 children
Our principal aim is to return a fit and healthy toddler back to his or her home community. Sadly this was not always possible in the past. In some situations, such as abandonment, health conditions or further deaths of relatives, going was not be possible.
Our foster homes were family units created for children that were over five and had no family to return to. They are all within Blantyre and are reasonably near to each other. They are owned and managed by Open Arms but function like any other family.
A house mother and assistant house mother appointed from within the infant home live in the home with their own families and care for around six children. The mothers have known the children from the very early stages of development and have extremely close ties to them. Children go to local schools, make local friends, go on holidays together and become an independent family.