Warmly hosted by the UNICEF Malawi staff, recently a group of U.S. Fund for UNICEF staff and supporters visited the country to see the great breadth of UNICEFâ€™s work and meet the children who are benefitting.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world that ranks 160th of the 182 surveyed in the Human Development Index. As the majority of the population lives below the poverty line, there are serious consequences for children and women.Â
UNICEF has been working in Malawi since 1964 and has been focusing efforts in:
- Health and Nutrition
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion
- Basic Education and Youth Development
- Orphans and Child Protection
- Social Policy and Advocacy
With much success over the years, UNICEF still faces challenges in providing the necessary services to improve all components on helping children lead healthy and productive lives in a country that struggles with drought as well as a challenged economic system. A changing political climate is hoped to address the needs of such struggles.
One of the most striking moments was when we visited the schools that UNICEF has helped to develop. By establishing child-friendly schools in the most rural areas of the country, UNICEF is able to demonstrate a commitment to have all kids attend school.Â A child-friendly schoolâ€”one that has two separate latrines for boys and girls, an environment conducive to learning and a balanced teacher/student ratioâ€”is a work in progress.Â The K.I.N.D. Projectâ€”Kids In Need of Desksâ€”that was initiated by Lawrence Oâ€™Donnell of MSNBC has proven to be extremely successful.Â Some of the desks provided by the program are included in these pictures.Â Seeing the smiling faces of the children at school was a reward to show us that they are excited to be in school and happy to learn.Â
Additionally, the implementation of technology to improve health care by sending test results faster via SMS text messaging and to register births to a central database, to transfer money via a cash transfer system for child headed households, and to teach the youth computer training skills has made an incredible improvement in the lives of the youth in Malawi, thereby improving the state of the country overall.
The UNICEF team in Malawi is an integral source for the improvement of health, education and child protection in the country and should be applauded for their successful management of the community leaders with whom they work.Â Weâ€™re fortunate to have such dedicated and knowledgeable colleagues on the ground to respond to the needs of the children in Malawi, and all over the world.
To donate a desk to a student in Malawi, please visit our K.I.N.D.: Kids in Need of DesksÂ donation page.Â