Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Exchange Volunteer Ms. Soukaina Bouihi, Photos by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Abdellah Azizi
In Every CorpsAfrica Volunteer’s service, there comes a time when they are introduced to a new site, and a new community. Over a month ago, we came to our site, Mulanje, south of Malawi, an hour’s drive from Blantyre. Whatever I write about this place’s beauty, it would not do it any justice, so I will just say that everywhere you turn, any time of the day, you come across an almost painted view, it is that magical. What makes it more interesting is that we live at the foot of Mulanje Mountain, a tourist attraction and one of the country’s most beautiful spots.
Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to be placed with a Malawian host family, which made us seek all kinds of guidance and understanding by socializing with locals on a daily basis. However we do live with a different kind of host family, Richard, our roommate, a 21 years old British Volunteer, and Seth a young Malawian man, working in Mulanje. They have been really helpful with everything we need to know, since Richard was two months ahead of us, and Seth has been living here for a while too.
On the other hand, we are definitely having the pleasure to work with one of Malawi’s most respected NGOs. FOMO (Friends of Mulanje orphans), an organization which was established in 2000 to aid Orphans in Mulanje. From small beginnings FOMO has grown and now looks after over 5000 children through a network of 13 centers covering over 85 villages in Mulanje district, working side by side with local families who can foster these children by implementing a family based approach, to provide a family setting for the orphans in order to maintain community relationships and therefore protect their values and traditions.
Despite its big range of operation, FOMO invests in a small staff and decent mount of logistic capacities. They focus on getting the help directly to the orphans without being lost into the spending of logistics, an effective and ethical approach in our opinion.
FOMO has developed a few income generating projects (a Secondary private school, driving school, recording studio, tailoring school, Computing school) which help them be self-reliant in terms of funds and independent from outside aid. However it could never be enough, they still have to work with other development partners and fundraise, especially in the UK, in order to get the necessary help to the orphans.
From hearing about a few FOMO students in media club that Abdellah has started the first week we got to Mulanje, and seeing their motivation and dedication, as well as witnessing the work that FOMO has accomplished working with orphans from all ages by visiting some their centers and living in one, (We are living in a FOMO guesthouse inside one of the centers), inspired us and made us think of focusing our service into finding a project that could help FOMO even on just a small scale.