I met Neville and Rosemarie Bevis many years ago, when they moved to Malawi to take over the running of Open Arms. I was fascinated by the project they were about to undertake, and followed it closely through the local media. I promised myself I would go out to Open Arms when I retired.
In 2007 I made my first trip with my daughter, and in July I will return for my eighth visit. Each time it is like going home. I am always amazed at the country which has so much poverty but is so rich in its warmth and generosity to mankind.
When I left my place of work I had the most wonderful send off, but nothing compares to the singing and dancing that the house mothers provide as you leave on your final day. These women have very little in their day to day lives but provide so much for the orphaned children that are in their charge during their time at Open Arms.
My retirement means I do very little before 9am except drink a cup of tea! However, at Open Arms I think nothing of starting at 6.30am every day of the week. It is such a pleasure to be with the babies and young children, their arms outstretched to you as you approach to lift them out of their cots.
During my first visit I became very attached to a baby named Mtendre which in English translates to Peace. He now lives in a Foster Home and I see him each time I return. I send money out to him on a monthly basis, through Open Arms’ cash transfer scheme, which helps towards his schooling. For me it is very little, but for him and his family it makes a huge difference.
During my first visit I wanted to change everything! I now realize that this is impossible. But if I can give an orphaned child my time for feeding and playing, and lots of hugs then I really can make a difference. These children are missing out on that chance because of their situation.
I have now become a member of the Board of Trustees and help whenever I can in the office and at fundraising events. This means that I am ‘doing my bit’ whilst in England alongside my hopefully annual visit to Open Arms, Malawi.
If you’d like to find out about the opportunities to volunteer with Open Arms please get in touch. We’re extremely grateful for all offers of help.