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SOS child in bath in Malawi
Nearly a third of Malawi's children do not attend primary school, and more than one in ten live with HIV/AIDS. We work in Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu to help families provide a safe, happy childhood for their children, and to provide care for those who cannot grow up with their parents. … more about our charity work in Malawi

Maureen in Malawi: Help!

Maureen in Malawi: Help!

In 2011, Maureen and Martin visited SOS Children's Village Lilongwe in Malawi. Maureen recorded their experiences in a blog, which we are now republishing. In part 3, they share their skills at the SOS Vocational Centre and Medical Centre.

What have I let myself in for? 

Today we visited the SOS Vocational Centre which is a 20 minute walk from the Village. The centre teaches 18 year olds and over: brick laying, tropical agriculture, hotel management, IT, business, textile and fashion design, carpentry, and electrical mechanics to diploma level. Both boys and girls attend the subjects like sewing, carpentry and brick laying.

Having expressed an interest in helping with agriculture, I found myself in the deep end. In front of a class (public speaking has never been my strong point) I introduced myself and ending with the promise of a lesson! I suppose there has to be a first time for everything, but this is truly boundary shifting work for me and so I find myself shakily preparing a lesson (also a first) on propagation this afternoon.

SOS Secondary School Lilongwe MalawiPractical teaching 

The following day I did my lesson from 8.00-10.00am. I stood in front of the class involving my newly acquired pupils by getting them to participate and make suggestions, and writing the main points on the blackboard. They are perfectly behaved and very polite, but I am very aware that I have to ask them to repeat themselves up to four times while I get used to their intonation and accent. 

Then we had an hours practical outside, demonstrating leaf cuttings, stem cuttings and layering on kalanchoe, sweet potato and granadillo (passion fruit). I am relieved but pleased when it’s all over. I hand over the garden gloves, secateurs, seed trays and a variety of seeds which I brought from England. In the afternoon I prepare my next lesson on leaf vegetables for Friday, the recent course I did at the Open University in ‘Nutrition’ will come in handy. Thankfully I have some respite in the form of assisting with the textile class tomorrow; just assisting, not teaching.

Martin diagnoses a rare case

Martin, who is a specialist in pediatrics, also has an interesting experience when he is asked to look at a girl who attends the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre. He diagnoses her with a very rare case of tuberculoses in it’s end stage with an atherocytoma. In the afternoon he sees a number of patients together with one of the two Medical Officers from SOS.

Here is an extract from Martin's day:

”I was greatly moved when we first walked into the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre at the SOS village. I thought I was going to burst into tears. I am used to working in community paediatrics with children with disabilities. In our Child Development Centresin Cornwall, I work with the same types of children as here. Children with cerebral palsy, developmental delay and communication difficulties. Here they are of a different race – the only difference. But there were so many of them. 
With their motivated and dedicated mothers or relatives, stimulating and enacting the physiotherapy that one practitioner was teaching them. This physiotherapist and the occupational therapist were fantastic in what they were doing. There were about 25 children in this morning session, all with significant challenges, being encouraged on walking and standing frames made of wood and supported with lengths of material. 
I was asked to see a girl of three years for an opinion. She was beautifully cared for and wearing a white brides maid’s dress for that day. She had a very rare multi-system illness with an associated brain tumour that was pushing her eye forward, and she had hydrocephalus. At that point I felt these lovely people need the kind help of international humanity to lend a hand”

Find out more about our work in Malawi

Although SOS Children doesn't take overseas volunteers, it is sometimes possible to visit the Children's Village where your sponsored child lives.