It is a scorching hot morning in Turkana County, northern Kenya. The ground is dry and sandy, punctuated with small gorse bushes and occasional trees. Tall, thin termite nests point like fingers at the cloudless sky. In some places, dust swirls in miniature whirlwinds. Yellow locusts swarm around the remaining vegetation, stragglers from the recent locust invasion. It seems barely habitable, but people survive here, herding hardy animals like camels and goats, and moving around in search of pasture.
Naipa village, however, is like an oasis in the sandy almost-desert. A solar powered water system pumps groundwater up into overhead tanks on scaffolding, from which it flows down to taps in a school and seven villages. At the tap nearest the pump, a group of women and children have gathered to collect water. The Turkana are tall and striking. In rural areas, they still wear traditional clothing – beautifully coloured and patterned ‘leso’ wraps, headscarfs for balancing water containers and bead necklaces. They smile and laugh as they fill up their buckets and jerrycans. A boy walks past’ leading a line of well-fed camels to the water trough.
It is early morning at Sindo Main Beach in Homa Bay when the fishing boats arrive. The smell of fish is already strong in the air. White egret birds circle and call out, looking to steal a meal. As a new boat arrives, a man wading waist deep in the water shows it where to land. Dozens of women race forward to get their buckets in the boat, reserving a portion of the catch. Fishermen scoop up large handfuls of tiny omena fish, quickly filling up the buckets. Most women hand over 1,000 shillings ($10 USD) but a few do not. For these women, there is an understanding that they will meet the fisherman later for sex.
It’s a sunny late afternoon at Agape Children’s Ministry in Kisumu. Children run around, playing football or netball with staff. Others play checkers with stones on a painted table top. A girl swings on a tyre, trying to make it go as high as she can. Shouts and laughter fill the air. Meanwhile, a young man looks pensively at a row of bunk beds in the boy’s dormitory. Unlike the children outside, most of whom will be in the institution for just a few months before returning home, Samora spent almost his entire childhood in care.
It’s a bright, sunny morning on the last day of term at State Junior Secondary School 3 in Klaten, and the schoolyard is full of children in uniforms, chatting and playing. Klaten is one of the poorest towns in the Indonesian island of Java. It suffers from being located halfway between the more prosperous cities of Solo and Yogyakarta. Most families in this area are rice farmers and are vulnerable to poverty due to bad harvests.
The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre. Continue reading “On the move: mobile clinic helps malnourished children”→
It was the middle of the night on 7 March when Annie decided to flee her home with her children, including baby Ndaziona, who had been born just two days before. It had been raining for four days, the nearby Shire river was rising, and the family’s mud brick and straw house was becoming precarious. Annie woke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. “I looked outside and saw lots of water coming,” she recalls. “I took the children and ran. We got maybe 10 or 20 metres before the house collapsed behind us.” Continue reading “Water of life: helping two-week-old Ndaziona survive”→
Praisewell Ayishoshe, 9, sits outside the home he shares with his uncle, Chikumbutso Jamu, and his new wife in an urban township on the edge of Lilongwe. Chikumbutso is a DJ who makes music and video CDs for a living, which he sells at the local market. In the lounge is a sound system and laptop that he uses to make the discs. A compilation of Nigerian and South African hip-hop music is in progress. Praisewell, or Praise for short, has his own bedroom and goes to a local school. Continue reading “Superstar DJ: Praise finds a new home with his uncle”→
The sprawling campus of Chancellor College is on the edge of Malawi’s former capital city, Zomba, with the dramatic profile of Zomba Plateau behind it. It is only 120 kms from the dirt tracks, maize fields, and mud-brick villages of student Tiffany’s home in Mangochi, but it feels like a world away. Fashionably dressed students sit in groups chatting on manicured lawns in front of the modern library building and lecture halls. A young man in a Che Guevara t-shirt walks past two women in colourful Muslim head scarfs. Flyers on the noticeboard outside the library advertise everything from music concerts to a study tour of the Ministry of Finance. It could be a university campus anywhere in the world.
Mary Lingisoni, 11, lives with her two older sisters, Agnes and Ellen, father and stepmother in a township on the edge of Lilongwe. It’s a very normal Malawian set up. The family rent a small brick two-bedroom house, with a sparsely furnished lounge and front porch. The girls sleep in one room and their parents in the other. Their father does odd jobs in construction. The township is like a dense village, with narrow dirt roads weaving between tightly packed houses. Chickens and goats roam freely and women walk to water kiosks with large plastic buckets on their heads.
It is a hot, dry and windy day at Nankhali school, on the edge of Lilongwe. Most of the school is outdoors, with classes held under trees. Wherever there is a tree, dozens of children in blue school uniforms sit on the bare earth ground around a teacher, with a blackboard leant against the tree trunk.