One of the pleasures of working for UNICEF is travelling to remote parts of Malawi to write stories about children and their families. Sometimes I’m accompanied by a professional photographer but other times I go on my own. This gives me some great opportunities to photograph children. Some of these children are the subjects of stories I wrote, while others are just curious kids from the neighbourhood who came to see what was going on. Like most places in the world, children in Malawi love having their photo taken, But here they see cameras much less often, so are that much more excited.
Seven-year-old Tiyamike lives with her family in Mchinji, close to the border with Zambia. Her father died in 2017. He used to have a successful bicycle repair business and built a large house for the family. Since then, her mother Vigilta has struggled to look after the children.
Tiyamike attends a UNICEF-supported children’s corner. “The activity I most love at the children’s corner is skipping, because I enjoy the jumping. I also enjoy dancing and playing football,” she says. “My favourite subject at school is maths because I do very well in it. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.”
These two girls are neighbours of Joyce Chisale, who receives a UNICEF scholarship for secondary school. We were filming Joyce at home in Blantyre during the school holiday and they came out to watch.
This is one of my first photos from Malawi. A large crowd of children gathered to watch UNICEF fly a drone in rural Lilongwe to test the use of drones in emergency response following heavy rains and floods. The storm clouds gathered above threaten more rain, which arrived just as the drone landed.
Excited children at a lakeside school in Mangochi, which we visited as part of a desk delivery programme, ahead of the visit of US talk show host and UNICEF donor Lawrence O’Donnell.
Adolescent girls receiving UNICEF scholarships at Namwera Secondary School in Mangochi, near the southern tip of Lake Malawi. Two of them, Rehema (far left) and Rita (second right) are also in Youth Out Loud, a youth media programme set up by UNICEF.
“I joined the youth media programme because I like to inform people about what’s happening in our area,” Rehema says. “I really enjoyed it. I’ve never been in a radio station before. I am very happy because people will hear my words and they will know that somewhere in the world, there is Rehema.”
Children learn in a classroom without a roof at Nankhali School, seen through a hole in the wall. UNICEF later rebuilt the school, which is on the edge of Lilongwe. Using money raised from a German telethon, we built classrooms, a library, teachers houses and toilet blocks.
Close by, another class learns under a tree. This is a common sight in Malawian primary schools, where enrollment far outstrips facilities and teachers. Learning outside is difficult for children in the rainy season, but also in the dry season when the wind blows dust into their eyes.
A young boy and his sister throw a homemade ball in a village near Nankhali school, where we were interviewing children who had dropped out of school because of the lack of classrooms.
Children play on the beach at the shore of Lake Malawi at sunset. Cape Maclear is one of my favourite holiday destinations in Malawi. It’s a fun beachside town where fishermen and other villagers rub shoulders with backpackers.
Four friends playing together at a village in southern Malawi, where we were researching stories on ways to build community resilience to natural disasters and climate change.
Relatives and neighbours of Edna, a girl affected by child marriage, who we were interviewing in Mangochi for a series of stories on the issue. The truck, which is an unusual sight in small rural villages, has not worked for several years.
Antonio and his friends welcome us to their village in Mchinji with a traditional dance. “I love going to the children’s corner because it makes me forget about the problems we face at home,” he says. “I enjoy playing football. My favourite team in Malawi is Big Bullets. When I finish school, I want to be a doctor.”
Antonio, 11, is the seventh of eight children. He is wearing a traditional headband. His mother Maratina divorced her husband 11 years ago when Antonio was born. He has not provided any support to the children since then.
A boy with an ingenious homemade school bag, made from newspapers and wire, in Mchinji. I saw him walking home from school while we were visiting families of children attending the nearby children’s corner.