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'There simply are not enough superlatives to describe Malawi....'

Volunteers from Johnson & Johnson family of companies travel out to Malawi each year to support our projects.  This year they have started the build of our ninth nursery school near Mangochi.  

Once complete, this school will provide an early education and a daily meal to 60 children in their local village, giving them a better start in life.  The first group reflect back on their week in Malawi…

Volunteering Malawi

The welcome couldn't have been warmer with all the Open Arms Malawi team coming to say 'hello!', an awesome BBQ prepared and… oh a beer or two. 

Soon everyone sunk into a travel induced sleep excited for the adventures the next few days would bring.

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Nursery school visit

Breakfast done the group headed to a local village to visit a nursery school and feeding station built on an earlier J&J OAM project.  Welcomed by so many children whose euphoria was infectious the team, full of positive energy, walked the final yards to nursery with children in tow and were serenaded by the nursery children - again another example of how OAM has made and will continue to make such a positive impact on the lives of the local children.

At the infant home

 At the Mangochi home, we met the full team and saw the contributions of J&J to Open Arms - they sponsored the home to be built! Joe & Sarah were put to work folding and hanging clothes before heading to the playground area where the children were.  Having spent the morning in the garden the children moved to the classroom where at the maximum age of 2.5yrs they promptly amazed us by taking their seat for their morning snack and in turns recited the days of the week!!

Out on outreach

 When the first outreach team (Kristina, Claudia & Chris) were dropped at the home, they headed out to visit 3 children, previously at Open Arms who have now been reunited with their family guardian - a process that happens for all children from the age of 2-3 years old.  The importance of outreach was quickly realized when the first child tested positive for malaria. Rex, the Open Arms matron, identified the symptoms, conducted the test and was able to treat there and then - having been able to catch and treat so early meant the child would not develop full life threatening malaria - incredible!!

Down at the site

While some of the group visited the infant home and local villages, the rest of the group work at the site of this year’s project. 

The Malawian weather we all expected came out and the mercury hit 35'C! The tasks included filling the foundation trenches, finishing the block work, brick making and filling the inside foundations with a base layer of dirt - aka digging, shovelling and cement mixing.  Admiration for the local builders hit a new high.

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Did you know? 

Malawian builders complete these projects without any mechanical support. Each block and brick is made individually and dried in the sun for five days.  100% of the build is completed by hand, each tonne of material is moved by hand and there are no sophisticated tools.  There is not much beyond a shovel, hoe and pick axe. They are a perfect example of what dedication, sweat and muscles can accomplish!

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Greatest moment

Thanks to the incredible support and kindness of all that donated we were able to provide each builder with a clothes bundle including shoes for which they were evidently over joyed with. The pure excitement and happiness this simple act generated was for me the greatest moment of the week!

The whole week showed how hard work, a good cause and great people brings everyone together and we are incredibly thankful for having been able to be involved.

Author: Joe

Contributors: Margaret, Sarah, Chris, Norbert, Isabel, Alena, Claudia, Veronica & Kristina

Volunteer in Malawi

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