May Newsletter 2017

"4 year old Faith came to us in October last year but was very shy and rarely smiled. A few months with us and look at her now! "

She and her sister Felesta have settled really well and are very happy. We gave a home to 2 more little girls in April too - 4 year old Dorothy and 8 year old Yvonne.


They had been living with an old lady who had offered to help when their mother passed away last year, but could no longer cope. The girls seem to have no relatives at all.



Dorothy age 4
Yvonne age 8
George and Gift collecting the cobs
Mattias carrying a bucket of cobs


Easter was harvest time again in Malawi and all the children joined in every day to bring the maize in. As it was holiday time the children were home from school and college and they worked hard to complete it before they went back to their studies. The crop was reasonable but it has been affected by lack of rain for the second year running and we now have to supplement our own maize with bought rice and maize flour later in the year.

First day back at school for the little ones after Easter

Our wonderful matron Mirriam had an accident in January and the ankle fracture she sustained has not healed properly. Elspeth was shocked to see her hobbling around when she arrived and sent her straight on leave. Further investigation revealed that she needs an operation to correct the bone and so she will not be returning for some time. The operation is being carried out at the CURE hospital where little Gift had his cleft palette surgery last year and our friend Kyle is head of surgery. We wish Mirriam a complete recovery and are so pleased she will be in such capable hands. Elspeth and our Malawian trustee Glad Munthali have formed a plan to cover Mirriam's absence and all the staff and children are on board to work together to get through this difficult time. 

Excavation for the bridge foundations start with help from Elijah and 2 of our gardeners

On the Home front...

Last summer we received a request from the Chief of Kapeya village to help him rebuild a footbridge across the stream near our site. The original one collapsed many years ago and the villagers struggle to scramble down the steep banks to cross on their way to the market and the maize mill. He didn't know that Elspeth is a chartered engineer in UK and has spent most of her career building bridges so he was very happy to hear that she had organised it to start in April this year. The villagers are helping and we are using local stone from the land and local hand made bricks to form a simple arched bridge. Construction is well under way and Elspeth's friends and colleagues in UK have raised the funds as a special project. Several UK engineers have also offered to fly out to help supervise the construction so it should be a real success. Our own local bricklayer is going to build the arch and is thrilled to be working on something totally different from his usual work of house construction.

Setting out the walls with string and a good eye
The end of Elspeth's trip with both support walls started


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The second round house now has a beautiful thatched roof thanks to the Community Overseas Aid Project (COAP) from Newnham in Kent. They have also worked hard to raise a significant amount towards the new footbridge. Our sincere thanks to them all.

Our thank yous to you...

Once again our sincere thanks go to Northfleet and Ebbsfleet Lions for their continued support of the orphanage. Elspeth received their generous cheque in March at a special presentation evening where gifts were given to many charities.  

Northfleet and Ebbsfleet Lions Continued support

Congratulations and thanks to the film crew from California, Gabriella Pinel, Harper White and Ariana Victor whose documentary 'Haven' about Smile Malawi has just been screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival. We were thrilled with the success and hope for lots more!  

Film crew from California, Gabriella Pinel, Harper White and Ariana Victor

Special thanks go to Ken Newell who has raised the funding for the bridge project. Ken sourced funds from the Retired Civil Engineers Association, Friends of Malawi Association, COAP and many friends and colleagues. Our thanks go to everyone for their support.

Thanks to Ken Newell

Our plans...

Much of 2017 will be taken up with the bridge construction but, once our builder has completed this, work will continue on the second round house. With Mirriam away, we have decided to see how she recovers before committing to any further projects but visitors are still welcome to stay with us in our first round house. Our estate manager Malsen Chatengwa speaks English and will co-ordinate arrangements for guests with help from the trustees and 18 year old Caroline who is keen to learn about the hospitality industry for her future.

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