This blog has taken me a long time to write because this trip was unlike my other holiday’s and meant a lot so I wanted to find the right words – I still don’t think I’ve been able to capture my emotions entirely but I hope they come through a little.
In July, I went to Malawi with Hope for Humanity on a charity aid deployment. There are plenty of charities who are all doing amazing work but for me Hope for Humanity is the one charity which I trust 100% with my time and money. I’ve travelled with them before and seen the meticulous detail with which the finances are managed and projects are evaluated so I can say that every penny donated is spent wisely and correctly.
I’ve been on several deployments before which have all stuck with me but Malawi was different and I haven’t been able to put my finger on exactly why.
As my friends and I call it the “post-deployment blues” are well and truly real where you’re physically back home but your heart and mind are left on deployment. You start questioning the notions of daily life and just wondering about all those beautiful people you were with a few days/weeks/months ago.
On one hand I’m thankful that after a couple of deployments I haven’t become desensitised to it all and on the other I feel like I need to spend my whole life doing this and giving back in any small way that I can – the struggle in balancing it all is real!
To be surrounded by people who are content and happy with whatever they have really puts your own life and indulgences into perspective.
Many of you have probably never heard of Malawi and if you have you probably know it as one of the many countries in Africa.
Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries and according to a 2017 report into the country’s economic standing by the International Monetary Fund “50 percent of the population were classified as poor… approximately 25 percent lived in extreme poverty, defined as the inability to satisfy food needs.”
That is an incredibly alarming figure and I was oblivious to much of this before the trip and my own research. The main source of income comes from agriculture and a large percentage of the population live in rural areas therefore it’s almost impossible to break out of the poverty cycle.
Food insecurity is a major problem and that based the foundation of our trip and projects.
To explain exactly how sparse food was in some of the villages we visited let me tell you about one of our distributions. We had just finished giving out about 100 food parcels when one of the sugar bags split on the floor and went everywhere! Amongst the dirt and sand… before I could even look around for something to pick it up with a group of four children ran up to me scooped the sugar and ran away… I’m pretty sure I was stunned for a few seconds as I comprehended what had just happened. It was sugar, dirty sugar which here we would’ve thrown away if it fell on our kitchen floor let alone outside but there the children took it happily! It made me think just how wasteful we are here!
Let’s get into the trip some more and exactly what we did out there…
We went to Blantyre in Malawi for 8 days of which we spent 6 days carrying out various projects and 2 days travelling – it took us 26 hours to get there!
Our main project was the packing and delivery of food parcels – many of the villages we worked in were incredibly poor with no support so food was an absolute necessity and we wholeheartedly focused on it. Over the course of our time, we packed around 600 food parcels which we distributed in 7 different villages and a hospital.
We distributed in the following villages:
- Queen Elizabeth Government Hospital
Each food parcel we distributed contained:
- Soap (face, body, and dish)
- Wrappers (printed cloths worn as skirt and very popular in the villages!)
Pretty much every single food parcel was packed by us, the Hope for Humanity team. We would get to a village and spend a few hours weighing, measuring and filling bags of rice, flour, beans and nuts in the beating heat. Don’t be fooled into thinking we were running a smooth operation from the first distribution tho – it took us a fair few attempts to figure out a strategy that worked for us and once we mastered that we were packing and distributing like experts, in complete sync with one another.
Queen Elizabeth Government Hospital
The hardest day for me in Malawi was the day we visited the main government hospital which was looking after about 700+ patients. The hospital was full and people lined each and every corridor awaiting medication, appointments or treatment.
In our group there was always someone making a joke or a conversation going on but as we walked through the paediatric wards and met some of the youngest casualties of food insecurity, we were all silenced.
Despite going on deployments before, i had never come face to face with real malnutrition – in the hospital wards we saw children who were so severely malnourished that I could see near enough every bone of their fragile body. Mother’s sat around helplessly trying to attend to their children as best as they could with whatever little resources and sustenance they had. It was an incredibly difficult day!
We’ve all seen the adverts of starving children with the swollen stomachs but walking through a hospital and seeing it in front of your very own eyes is… something that will stay with me forever.
We came across one young mother who had just prematurely given birth to twins however due to her financial state she was unable to provide them with any nutrition. She wasn’t producing enough breast milk either and the doctor told us that one of the twins was quite literally on the brink of death. By the grace of God we were there at the right time and able to provide some milk but if we hadn’t been there then that would have been another life lost to poverty.
I have so many other moments from the trip and if I went in to detail about every single one then this blog would literally never end.
I loved seeing the beautiful faces and looks of joy on the women’s faces as they welcomed us to their village through song and dance – every time we drove in and heard them singing we all had smiles on our faces. The people we were distributing aid to were all so thankful and appreciative, it makes my heart feel full just thinking about them and this was all thanks to our friends and family in the UK who donated so generously towards our projects.
I know going to country in Africa on an aid deployment is something which some people don’t agree with and terms like ‘voluntourism’ and ‘poverty porn’ are thrown about but in actuality if you go with the right intentions and are respectful to your environment then it’s far from that.
In the case of Malawi, “it has a population of 15 million people, and 74 percent live below the income poverty line of $1.90 per day”. When you read a figure as astonishing as that then all the naysayers kinda fade away because if you’re in the position to do something then I believe you should.
As cliche as it sounds these trips really do change your life and make you so thankful and content for all that you have. We are blessed and should be thankful that we’re not living a life where we’re worried about our next meal or roof over our heads – this isn’t the case everywhere.
Charity begins at home so let’s start by being nicer to each other and those in our local community and then expand that as far as we can. Also if you ever get the chance to go on one of these deployments then I would grab it with both hands because I can assure you it’s not something you’ll ever regret – in fact you’ll be better for it and wish you had done it sooner!
Hope for Humanity has loads of projects you can get involved in from local homeless feeds, elderly befriending projects, sponsored walks to international deployments like these. Please visit and like their Facebook page to follow the amazing work they do and maybe you’ll be inspired to take on something yourself 💚💚