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Summer update from Open Arms Infant Homes

Dear Friends,

Here in Malawi, we are slowly returning to some kind of normality after all the negative impact of the C-19 Pandemic, but unfortunately, we are not yet able to host visiting volunteers. I am, however, pleased to report that despite the Pandemic and other unfriendly weather events, Open Arms has continued to moved forward especially in the way we are returning babies and older children back into their extended families.

Five years ago, our Infant Homes in Blantyre and Mangochi were both caring for more than 30 babies each. Now, we care typically for 18 – 25 per Infant Home. The numbers of babies being welcomed are broadly the same but we have been managing to reintegrate most babies by latest age two and some even younger.


Engaging immediately with referring Social Welfare Officers to identify the guardian designate and the proposed home has improved the quality of the toddler re-integrations. This earlier engagement has given us the time to work with the families to make sure everything is ready for the new arrival.

No failed or badly delayed re-integrations for several years has meant a reduction to the average age in Infant Homes and therefore, less older babies under our care. And the younger the babies are returned, the more integrated into their family they have become.

As a child care organisation, we have pledged to find loving working family homes for all our babies at the youngest ages safely possible. Family solutions have been found for all the young children who were previously living in Harrogate House.

Among our older children, we have managed to locate family members, forge links and to date, five have returned home. Among those still with us, we are continuing with school, college and vocational education, as well as work experience postings.

Some of these successes are a result of closer co-operation with our Social Welfare Department partners, who are supportive of any actions that return babies and children to family homes.

Of course, we have faced some disruptions along the way. Malawi is very short of foreign exchange, which has led to a devaluation of the Kwacha and inflation is now rising at an alarming rate. The COVID years have hit fundraising hard but we will still have to award our hardworking staff a 20% pay increase next month for their salaries to keep pace with ‘cost of living’ increases.  

Cyclones and tropical storms are no longer occasional events but are occurring regularly. In the past year Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe both precipitated large amounts of rain on Malawi’s Southern Region. One of three Shire River hydro-electric generation plants was completely washed away and with it 1/3 of Malawi’s power generation capacity leaving us with extended power cuts and higher fuel bills from running our old generators to power our washing machines. Feedback from our outreach visiting staff after the heavy rains is reporting that crop damage has been the main problem for our 300 outreach beneficiaries.

Malawi View

As 2022 progresses, we will be continuing to operate as frugally as we can to avoid having to cut any aspects of our operations. We will maintain our policy emphasis on finding family solutions, especially for our older children. Outreach staff will continue to monitor beneficiary families, especially those whose crops were destroyed. Hopefully, we will be able to distribute seed / fertilizer packs in September and funds permitting, make emergency food distributions to tide families over until the 2023 harvest arrives.

Thank you all for your generous support. Any continued support, as you can see here, will make such a huge difference to the lives of children and their families less fortunate than ourselves.

Best wishes for the remainder of 2022

Charlie McCaulder

Director, Open Arms Infant Homes

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