25 December 2013

Happy Christmas from Chimwemwe

Christmas across the globe is a wonderful time when people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

This is the time when families and friends meet together to share meals, gifts, joy and love. In Malawi, just like in many other places, parents and guardians do their best to treat their children with special clothes and other gifts.

Unfortunately, there are many other children whose parents and guardians have died, often due to HIV/AIDS. Without anyone to care for them, these children end up living in the streets where life is extremely difficult. To them, Christmas is a time of sadness and pain as they watch other children from well to do families celebrating with their loved ones.

Charles 8, Vincent 11 and Petred 13 are some of the children who have grown to hate Christmas due to the loss of their parents. Although all three come from different families, they became friends while living in the streets. For a while, all of them were living in the Chimwemwe Children’s Centre, but the centre had to close in late October due to financial constraints.

However, Chimwemwe has helped them to find alternative shelter. Petred is now living at the Samaritan Trust, an organization that supports street children. Charles is currently placed at Mpemba Boys’ Home, a former reformatory Center for Juveniles and Vincent is now living with his aunt in Ndirande Township – one of the biggest districts in Malawi.

For all of these children, this will be their first Christmas in these new homes. However, none of them is really keen or looking forward to Christmas this year.

Charles feels that living at Mpemba boys home is lonely and not really exciting. Christmas day will be just like any other day, and to make it worse, the children at the home will not be able to have a traditional Malawian Christmas meal which is rice and meat. Instead they will have the usual meal they eat (which feels a little like a prison meal to them).

“I really feel bad that Christmas has arrived. It’ll be so painful to see other kids celebrating with their families while we do not have an opportunity to be with our families or at least eat something nice. I look forward to see Christmas go as quick as possible,” says Charles.

Petred (far right)
For Petred this is a sad time being at the Samaritan Trust because most of the other children there have gone to be with their families, leaving only a few other children at the home. Petred will also have to do with the ordinary Malawian meal every one eats on a daily basis – vegetable stew and nsima (a starchy substance made from maize).

This is what he says:
“To be honest, I am not really looking forward to Christmas. Our friends from other families will receive gifts, new clothes and rice and beef. For me and other kids here we will have to do with an ordinary meal. I feel very lonely and isolated.” 

Although Vincent will be with his aunt, the fact it is Christmas will mean nothing because the aunt thinks that the little resources they have must be carefully budgeted for the month of January.

“My aunt thinks that buying extra things for Christmas is a waste of the little money she has and she needs to plan for the month of January which is one of the most difficult months for most Malawians in terms of hunger.”

The story of little Charles, Vincent and Petred is a true example of what life Christmas is like for poor and vulnerable children who have been found on the wrong side of life after losing parents. However, the positive side of the story is that all these three children are being supported by Chimwemwe to go to school which is their only hope that one day they will live a decent life. This is being reflected in Petred’s own words.

“I am very hopeful of life that one day, we shall live to celebrate Christmas with joy because of the support we continue to receive from Chimwemwe. Attending school is our only hope that we shall be able to get a job and earn our own money to help us look for our own families.”

Thank you to Amanda for this timely update about our support work for the charity she works with. 

I know a lot of you have given donations throughout the year when you have sold items through Ad-spot and all these small donations all add up, and thank you for those. 

Even if you have only bought from Filofax UK, but you clicked on a Filofax link on Philofaxy then you too have contributed to Chimwemwe. 

Each time someone buys via one of those links on Philofaxy a small commission is paid in to an account.  Yesterday I made a donation on your behalf, so thank you for continuing to use the links on Philofaxy, it all goes to a very good cause.   

Individual donations to Chimwemwe are very easy to do via PayPal, with or without a PayPal account. 

Thank you everyone for your continued support. I hope you have a Happy Christmas. 

1 comment:

  1. A HUGE thank you to everyone at Philofaxy for the continued support and encouragement that you give to Chimwemwe and a big thank you to Steve in particular!
    Hope everyone has a great Christmas.