Please take a look at our article published in the family section of the Guardian on Boxing Day-
How Christopher’s postcards won the hearts of an English couple http://gu.com/p/4ek7z/stw
Our aim is to raise enough money for materials and labour to help Christopher build a house in his home town of kNkhata Bay, Malawi.
Not only will the house provide Christopher with a safe place to live but it will also be a space where he can realise his dream of developing sustainable projects to help other people like himself in the community. He would like to offer a safe place for orphans and other young children who make a living selling handpainted postcards, as he did, by providing art materials and a community room. He would also like to use his catering skills and qualifications to open his home as a hostel for NGO's and volunteers who come to Nkhata Bay to work in the local hospital.
So far we have raised an incredible £7,500. Christopher has gone back to Malawi to start work on the project. The land is being cleared and levelled to prepare for the build.
We are Jan and Chris, teachers in Brighton. We met Christopher 15 years ago when he was selling hand-painted postcards in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. After buying some postcards from Christopher, he asked if he could borrow our water colour paints. Spending the day painting with him, we began chatting and listened to him sharing his life story.
At that time, he was living with his gran and sister. Having lost both his parents and 2 older siblings he was selling postcards to save money for himself to go to secondary school. We got to know him over the next few weeks and he asked us if we would be prepared to pay for his education. After talking to his gran, the headteacher of the school and the local education authority we went ahead.
Over the next couple of years his gran and sister both died and Christopher went to boarding school to finish his education. We continued to support Christopher after school, through training and now work.
He was left a small family plot of land in his hometown Nhkata Bay, Malawi. We are raising money so that next year we can help him to go back there by building a house where he can live and work.
For Christopher to remain in Nkhata Bay he will need to become sustainable. To do this we plan to use the house as a base for community projects in the area to not only benefit Christopher but to also benifit other young people of Nkhata Bay. We are in communication with HOPEmalawiUK who know the area well and can help us develop these projects.
Malawi is one of the least-developed countries in the world. Like Christopher many children are orphaned, mostly due to AIDS. Out of a population of 15.9 million people, 1.3 million children are orphans.
For these children and many others, eductaion is their only way out of poverty, but sadly not every child has the opportunity of an education. Primary school is free in Malawi but due to costs such as uniforms and school resources, many children drop out of school. UNICEF estimates that only 26% of boys and 16% of girls complete primary school. There is no free secondary school education in Malawi, for a lot of children getting through primary school is extremely difficult and going to secondary school is impossible
Christopher was living in South Africa where life was hard and he was in a very vulnerable postion, finding work where and when he could. Now he is home in Nkhata Bay where he is in the warmth of friends and the local community. By building a house for Christopher we will not only provide a home but also a place where he can further develop his skills and build a safer life for himself and others. We will work with Christopher and the local community to set up projects which will enable him and other young people to build hope and develop their prospects for the future.