Last year we asked you to support the building of a children’s centre in Malawi. Your response was amazing. But what exactly did your money help achieve?
Two years ago this land was home only to thick acacia bushes and a few small mud huts with no electricity, no running water and no fertile ground. Tucked to one side was a makeshift shelter crafted from roughly woven branches, with palm leaves for a roof. It wasn’t much.
But this building was the genesis for a transformation that the local community hardly dared hope for and, thanks to their determination for a better life for their children – and your generosity – an extraordinary change has happened.
The Ufulu Centre
In 2007 ActionAid launched a new set of Priority Projects. Among them we asked for help to build a children’s ufulu centre in Machinga, Malawi. Ufulu means wellbeing, freedom and comfort, and the project was designed to give pre-school children, especially orphans, a place to learn, socialise and access a guaranteed midday meal.
Today, over 120 children attend, perched on tiny blue and green plastic chairs studiously learning their alphabet, days of the week and months of the year. They sing in broken English as the older ones help the younger ones with their colouring books.
The positive effects don’t stop there. Such was the generosity of ActionAid's supporters, it has been able to grow and expand beyond the centre itself. The community told us that they were in desperate need of a borehole, as the nearest water source is a dirty pond full of grim-looking water. As might be expected, drinking and washing here was leading to eye problems, diarrhoea and numerous stomach upsets.
So drilling began for a new borehole and standpipe. It has galvanised the community; the women, for the first time, have been part of the decision-making process, and it is they who volunteered to bring in the sand and other materials necessary for building work to begin.
Along with the water comes electricity, the first in the region, and after that will be a skills centre for 14-19 year olds, so those who have missed out on school can learn a trade such as sewing or carpentry.
Into the future
“We had nothing before,” says Ernest Daudi, head of the ActionAid partner that built the centre. "The area has totally changed and we are really looking forward to clean water. And the skills centre means that people will now be able to get themselves out of poverty. We know these things are only coming because of the good relationship we have with ActionAid.
"Let’s continue this relationship – come with us on our journey and see how much difference you make not just now, but in 10, 15, even 20 years when these children have grown and you can see how their life turned out."