She's not heavy, she's my sister.

A Community project Malawi

This project is to support a family of young people aged 12 to 19 who have lost their parents and are now struggling to support each other.

Project aim

The aim is to sponsor five young people with education and day-to-day care so that they can become self-reliant.

About the project

This is the story of five young people in Malawi who are in a desperate situation.

In the 1970’s, during the civil war in Mozambique, the grandparents of these children fled to Malawi to seek safety. There was no work to be found, and so the grandfather went to find work in South Africa. But he never returned, and the family survived making homemade buns selling them at the nearby market.

As the children grew older, the four eldest left Malawi to join their father in South Africa. They never returned. Of the four who remained in Malawi, three died in young adulthood leaving six children. The children’s grandmother is now elderly and in very poor physical and mental health.

I know this because that grandmother is my sister.

I have been sending them what money I could afford for the past three years. Earlier this year I visited them and saw for myself the conditions in which they live. They have no electricity, no money for food or school uniforms and stationery. They sleep on the floor and the only food they eat is sweet potato leaves and pumpkin seeds with pounded maize.

My sister is no longer able to provide any care for her grandchildren. In fact, she is now the one who needs looking after.

When I left to come back to Britain I told the children to look after each other. I left them crying. But I can no longer support them on my own. I would like to raise money to give them the chance to go to school and to give them money for everyday needs of food and clothing.

Together with a group of supporters I held a fundraising event in Marlow where we raised over £700. In February I and a volunteer went back to see the children. We each paid for our trip, and we used the money raised to do what we could to repair their house, and to buy food and clothing.  [Click here to read Caroline Sauerback's report on her visit]

But that was just a short-term fix. I want to help these youngsters to stand on their own feet and become self-reliant with a decent start in life.

This is what I want to do:

  • Build a house – it will cost about £2,250 (Yes! That is not a mis-print: two thousand five hundred pounds)
  • Pay school fees, at least for the first year. School is not free in Malawi. This will cost £2,000 for all five.
  • Provide for basic living needs: £750
  • The total target is £5,000

If we raise more than £5,000 then the funds will go towards year 2 (£2,500) and year 3 (£1,500); a total of £9,000 over three years to set the youngsters up for their future.