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How it all began ........

Several years ago I decided I would like to help a child by becoming a sponsor through Action Aid.  Having chosen Africa I was pleased to receive information about Matrida in Malawi.  After several years , as she no longer needed my help, Esnat became my second sponsored child in Malawi.

I decided I would like to visit Esnat and Action Aid were very helpful in making this possible.  My parents and I began planning the trip.  Bacause Malawi is not really a tourist destination this is not easy.  By chance I happened to email Nadia at Nkwichi Lodge in Mozambique and she organised the whole trip.  After lots of contact through the bush mail a journey from Lilongwe to Chitipa to Likoma Island across to Mozambique and back to Lilongwe was planned.  This involved planes, boats, cars and trucks and surprisingly everything ran like clockwork.  Nadia and Patrick even met us on Likoma Island enroute to an antenatal check up!

After our first night in Lilongwe Henry our taxi driver (organised by Nadia) drove us north to Vwaza Marsh Safari Camp.  One of the activities was a visit to Chigwere Cultural Village and this is where my involvement with the children began.

We had taken toys for Esnat and her school but having seen these children we decided to share the toys with them.  Vasco our guide organised to take them to the village the next day as we were continuing our journey north in a quest to find Esnat.

Next stop Chelinda Lodge at Nyika where Action Aid had arranged to meet us and take us to Chitipa.  In their office they outlined all their plans for supporting the village and how sponsorship works.  We were so excited that Esnat and her family had agreed to meet us.  What an experience!  We were made most welcome and very humbled by what we saw.  It is very difficult for us to imagine how they survive on so little compared to our life in England.

We enjoyed the rest of our holiday in Malawi and came to understand why it is called "the warm heart of Africa".  Everyone was happy to see us especially the children who wanted to say "hello" and see their photographs on our cameras.

Memories of the children stayedwith us after we returned home and we began to consider how we could help.  Through our contact, Vasco, we first of all sent footballs to Chigwere as the children had been playing with homemade versions out of plastic bags and rubber bands!  We then progressed to more toys and childrens clothes.  However it soon became evident that because of the huge postage cost it would be more cost effective to transfer mony for them to be able to buy things that they need and are available in Malawi ie school uniforms and mosquito nets.  They still enjoy receiving parcels of toys and clothes that we take for granted.

Although we have enjoyed helping the village for the last 6 years we can no longer afford to do it on our own.  The number of orphans has now grown to 85 so we are looking for support from others so that the village can continue to develop.