Mairi tells us about her experiences as a volunteer in Malawi and how Celtic FC Foundation and Mary’s Meals are helping towards a better future for the children of our third world.
Describe a typical day for you in Malawi?
We would leave our accommodation at 7.30am every morning to travel to the under six centre. It was our job to paint the educational artwork onto the classroom walls, which Mary’s Meals call ‘talking walls’. Without any budget for basic teaching supplies such as text books, jotters and pencils these ‘talking walls’ are both long lasting and absolutely priceless by helping the children learn from an early age and increase their education levels. We would then return to our accommodation at around S.30pm, have dinner and spend our evenings chatting and playing games.
On our last day we made a two-hour journey to a primary school in Chikala to help distribute back-packs to all the children. These are donated to Mary’s Meals from several countries around the world, with many coming from Scotland. Inside each bag was a selection of items (clothing, toys, stationery, and toiletries) which were specifically tailored to the gender and age of the child. It was amazing to witness the joy that this brought to the children.
What did you find to be the biggest challenge out there?
How little the children have. Most kids have one set of clothes that they wore every day and only some of the children had shoes. Unless they have been given handmade toys, they will have no other possessions.
Was there a particularly memorable moment during your trip?
On our last day at each centre we would take the children toys to play with, skipping ropes, bat and ball and hula hoops. We played with the kids for a while before returning back inside to finish painting. A couple of minutes later some of the children appeared at the door to hand back all of the equipment that we had just given them! We thought it was incredible that they stopped playing with it, even though they were having so much fun because they knew it didn’t belong to them.
What did you feel was the most rewarding moment of the experience?
Watching the kids learn from the talking walls at the end of each project.
What have you taken from the experience now that you are home?
The children I met in Malawi were the happiest I have ever met. They do not need material things to make them happy in the way that we do.
Do you feel like the experience has changed you in any way?
It is easy to get sucked into worrying about ‘first world problems’ but I now need to remind myself that there are people in this world whose one worry each day is how they are going to feed their children.