Our Activity Weeks
In partnership with a team of Malawian teachers and musicians we run regular residential activity weeks during each school holiday. Our base is Likhubula House, a church-run community centre in the foothills of Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s highest mountain. Our children, who live in the villages surrounding Mount Mulanje, are selected from five local primary schools. We consult with head teachers who recommend orphaned children between the ages of 9 and 12 who are most in need of our support.
The children who come to us enjoy structured programmes of music, dance, art, craft and sport – all designed to develop the children’s self-confidence, to foster teamwork and leadership, to improve language skills, to encourage care of the environment and to teach life skills and HIV awareness. The children are given time to form friendships and to simply ‘be a child’. We work with up to 40 children who are given comfortable beds, nutritious meals, mosquito nets and showers – none of which are available at home where most would have to sleep on the floor and wash in the river.
A local primary school teacher is part of our team and helps the children prepare for the challenging primary school leaving exam which they must pass if they are to have a chance of being selected for secondary school. In Malawian primary schools, classes of 100+ are the norm. When the children come to us they are given one-to-one attention and support and we provide them with pens, pencils and exercise books.
The group has developed into a fine children’s choir – Likbubula Children’s Choir – which performs regularly in the local area and has even performed for a group of visiting members of the Scottish Parliament. The choir performs a mix of traditional Malawian songs and dances, gospel songs, songs about the local environment and with a few English songs thrown in! It’s wonderful to see the children, in their choir uniforms, singing, dancing and drumming with such confidence, enjoyment and skill.
Art, craft and sport, sometimes led by tutors from the UK, are included in each week’s activities. These are always enjoyed, as large classes and lack of equipment mean that children in Malawi have few opportunities to be creative at school. Recently, teachers of dance and drama from the UK have provided exciting new experiences for the children.
When young people reach the age of seventeen they ‘graduate’ from the Choir , enabling us to recruit new children – though we keep in close touch with our ‘graduates’. And so the pool of children and families we reach continues to expand.
Our weeks with the children provide the guardians with valuable respite time. We meet the guardians at least twice a year when the children give their end-of-week performance; we’re able to encourage the guardians and provide occasional emergency support. Our two houseparents live in Mulanje and are able to keep in regular touch with the children, their families and their schools.