Mar 24, 2018 Feeding Malawi’s Future
I have decided there are two types of third world countries. There is the third world I am familiar with like South America and parts of Asia. Where garbage is everywhere; streets and beaches, being burned in piles off the side of the road, or floating in the ocean. It is cluttered and dirty. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world yet there is zero garbage. When a country is this poor there is no excess. Everything is used. Everything can fill a need and is put to use.
We came to visit a project we have been involved with since 2008 called Nourish the Children. It is a charitable initiative that produces Vita Meal, a product developed by nutritionists to fight malnutrition and hunger in children. In Malawi the formula is based on local diet. Corn and soybeans are ground to a meal then enriched by essential vitamins and fats. Initially it was shipped from the US but now it’s made here in Malawi. This creates jobs and supports local farmers. Right now 120,000 children depend on Vita Meal every day. Most meals are served at schools, called CBCC Centers (Community Based Child Care Centers). There are 1,300 scattered across Malawi. These centers feed less than 1/3 of the country’s children.
Malnutrition is the number one killer here. Outside of the CBCC’s I saw distended bellies and children with hair changing color to a listless red, grey or blonde, all signs of malnutrition. It is a world that struggles to feed its people.
It is also full of exquisite humans. Ebony skin tones pop against their brightly patterned clothes. Fresh greens, lilacs, and robin egg blue show me the liveliness of their spirit. They stand out from the red dirt as if to say I am here, see me – I’m bold and beautiful. With loud singing voices moving through the corn filled air. They dress in their best to see us. Button up shirts, dresses, and even shoes. Which they are not accustomed to wearing. This becomes apparent any time we stop because they slip off their shoes and bend over to rub their aching feet.
Children are in constant supply and mothers are not. There are 2 million aids orphans here. Many live in orphanages or find homes with relatives. The parentless children just hang around like old people. Waiting for a little food or affection to come their way. There are little boys in glittery shoes and little girls wearing brown pinstripe suite jackets with flapping torn pockets and red dirt ground into their skin. Their main source of food is corn so you can always see a kid or two nibbling on a raw ear of corn. Occasionally there will be a roasted rat or mouse on a stick being eaten. They jokingly call this cheap sausage. Their smiles are like a crescent moon shinning up at you and when they reach out to hold your hand it feels like the world is collapsing at your feet.
I teasingly told Derek that I joined a mom’s group in the Mtalimanja Village. I was surrounded by young mothers, which despite our language barrier, spoke to me. We talked about babies sleeping through the night, the back pains of carrying and slinging children. They taught me how to tie and wrap a baby to my back using one of their bright sarongs and we asked each other questions about our husbands. At one point during our visit Derek and I held hands as we walked through the village and I could hear all the women snickering. Malawian’s never display public affection. So for them this was quite a sight. When I hugged a few of the mom’s goodbye they laughed and laughed at my affection towards them. I was worried that I offended them by doing this and asked one of the few English speakers if I had. She simply stated, “I was born here. I was married here. I will die here. I will never see anything else, neither will they so it’s important for people to come and show us their customs.”
With red dirt brick homes and the smell of roasting corn Malawi is now palpable for me. I’ve come to believe more strongly in giving to the people of this country. For whatever reason I was born into a great life. With this knowledge I feel more obligated to give back. I hope to become a force for good in the world. Likewise, I hope that if you see a need in your community, neighborhood, or families that you help fill it. Let’s be #motivatedbylove
If you’d like to donate a bag of Vita Meal to help feed a child click HERE
To watch our Vlog of our time spent with these amazing people click HERE