Hello from Malawi
It is great to be back, the children gave us a wonderful welcome at the airport ??
Kabula Lodge is just as I remember although they now have some solar power which means that we have light during the dark evenings. The power dose seem a little better although it can be erratic with sockets not working. The WiFi is only on from 6 pm to 7 am and is still very slow especially if we are all trying to use it!!!
It was lovely to relax on the Sunday after our long journey. We visited ‘Shoprite’ to get some essentials water, noodles, crisps etc..... in the evening we got some takeaway pizzas.
On Monday Vivienne & I went to Mary’s Meals who said they knew we were coming but appeared unprepared...... After a short planning meeting with Anala & Kathryn (Early child development officers) they identified 3 Under 6 centres which they said they would like us to work with and thought it would better if we worked together within each of the centres for the entire time. Since our last visit they have changed the feeding programme in the Under 6 centres. The children are no longer having phala first thing & sima at the end of the session, they are now only having phala around 10 am so their time at the centres is much shorter from 8 until 11. 30. The caregivers start at 7.30 am to prepare for the children arriving. Mary’s meals have identified that having shorter days with only 1 meal means they can open more Centres and feed more children from under 6 years and from this was rolled out at the start of the new term.
Our first centre was Namasimba they have around 60 - 70 children and are still enrolling as the centres have only reopened in the past 2 weeks after the summer break. The walls were painted with letters, days of the week, rhyme, numbers, shapes.... this had only just been completed over the summer holidays by some volunteers.
Within the centre the caregivers had defined areas with some resources, a story corner with books of various kinds some stories, activity books, picture books, a block area with some lovely bricks which had been made locally, a music area with drums and a role play area with lots of soft toys. The centre appeared to have far more resources than any of the previous under 6 centres we were working in the last time Vivienne and I were in Malawi.
We observed the first day joining in with the caregivers who were sitting within each of the areas. They are keen to teach the children the alphabet with a focus on vowels and numbers, counting and recognising. Throughout the week Vivienne and I worked with groups of children using TALULAR water bottles, seed pods and stones which we found around Kabula Lodge and around Namasimba Centre. We also introduced rhymes and songs to enhance the learning getting the children moving around the centre and using all available space.
The children were lovely and keen to join in. I even had a little girl called “princess” only 4 years old wanting to come home with me she became quite upset when she was told it was time to go home. The majority of the children arrive and leave the centre all by themselves. As we came to the end of our week at Namasimba the caregivers and children who ran to give us a cuddle as we arrived seemed so much more relaxed in our company and we were sorry not to be able to spend more time with them.
The weekend was 2 firsts for me Saturday we went to a football match I was happy supporting the home team whose colours were red ?????? and Sunday a bridal shower ???? a wonderful Malawian experience ?? ....