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Melissa Evans shares her experiences of volunteering

Melissa Evans shares some of her experiences of getting to know the children and the impact of Open Arms through volunteering in Malawi.

After a whirlwind four months back in England, I have finally got the chance to sit down and reflect on my time in Malawi. As a trainee teacher last year, I wanted to spend my Summer doing something for the children in this world who are not as fortunate as those in my class. Not knowing what to expect, myself and my boyfriend Mark arrived at Open Arms for the month of August.

What will stay with us the most is the presence of love. Love has conquered poverty and provided the children at Open Arms with a safe place they can call home. This is down to the dedication and commitment of all those involved, and we felt extremely privileged to have been part of and offer our help to Open Arms.

What struck me and will stay with me for as long as I live are the stories of each and every child. Perhaps one might call it naivety but I distinctly remember the word 'HIV' popping up in almost every conversation I had prior to my departure. I was surprised to find that only a handful of children now enter the orphanage with HIV after a life-changing medicine was introduced in Malawi that prevents mother-to-child transmission. Some children were abandoned but most stay for a visit until they are strong enough to be reunited with their families.

Being able to witness departures of several children was both a joyous and sad occasion. The children who leave Open Arms have an unquestionable bond with their 'mothers' and the other children but seeing their families welcome them with open arms brought a tear to my eye.

Whenever I retell my experience of Open Arms, I make sure I tell them of the happy moments I shared with the children because despite their horrendous journey into the infant home, Open Arms do everything they can to make sure these children are the lucky ones. This goes all the way from the three meals a day, the change of clothes and nappies, to the toys and their education. Not only do they provide for the 0 - 2 year olds, their hard work transpires right the way up until the children are off to university. This was an eye opening moment in which hope shines through.

As we said our farewells I couldn't help but notice the sadness I felt. I was leaving children who had nothing in comparison to the children who are in my care at school yet still found extreme happiness in everything they did. I have ambitions to come back and spend longer next time so that I can devote more of my time to impacting the lives of these children.

I hope that in reading this you might be inspired to get involved in this incredible charity because, perhaps selfishly, the heart-warming sensation and the pride you feel in helping will resonate with you forever.

We’re really grateful to all of our volunteers as they are a huge part of what we do. If you would like to find out more about the work we do and how you can get involved please sign up to our newsletters.

Melissa volunteered at the same time as Graeme Donoghue, who made a short film of his experience with Open Arms. He shares his experience of working in the Infant Homes, joining the foster house children on their visit to Lake Malawi, and a safari in Liwonde National Park. For a glimpse of Malawi, follow this link to watch the film …

Graeme Donoghue Volunteer Experience at Open Arms

Graeme Donoghue Volunteer Experience at Open Arms

Melissa volunteered at the same time as Graeme Donoghue, who made a short film of his experience with Open Arms. He shares his experience of working in the Infant Homes, joining the foster house children on their visit to Lake Malawi, and a safari in Liwonde National Park.

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