While most of my photography for UNICEF focuses on children, I’ve also taken portraits of the adults who work with and care for them in schools, health centres and elsewhere. Malawians are generally friendly and welcoming and make good subjects for photos. Older people in particular have faces full of character, although unlike children they take photos very seriously and have to be coaxed into providing a smile. People dress very smartly, like the headmaster above, even if they live in remote rural areas without water or electricity. Continue reading “Photos: People of Malawi”
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. Continue reading “Photos: Children of Malawi”
Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and forms almost the entire western border of Malawi. The country’s colonial-era name was Nyasaland, literally ‘Lake Land’, and much of its tourism is focused around the lake. It has a unique ecosystem, including the world’s only freshwater cichlids. Standing on the shore at the widest point of the lake, you cannot see the other side. Looking at the sandy beaches, palm trees and small islands, it’s hard to believe that it’s not the ocean. One small giveaway is the fresh water snail shells scattered along the waterline. And the smell of salt is absent from the air.
On a crisp, clear and unusually cloudless day during the rainy season, I made the peak of Dedza mountain with my friend Matthias and local guide James. The mountain rises to almost 2,200 metres above sea level. It towers over the nearby town of Dedza, which at 1,600 metres is already the highest town in Malawi. After a tough ascent to two radio towers at the near end of the mountain, we made our way along an indistinct path through scrubland and rocks, climbing a gently sloping plateau to the peak at the far end. Here, we were rewarded with a clear 360-degree view across central Malawi. Continue reading “Higher ground: climbing the mountains of Malawi”
In the packed earth yard at the centre of Kwiputi Primary School, a group of girls gather to practice netball, ahead of a district competition. The pitch is rudimentary, with goal posts made from wooden poles with scrap motorbike wheel rims attached to the top. The girls shout out to each other, with team coach Samayat, 14, giving directions. Rain clouds gather ominously overhead, but the girls keep on playing. Suddenly Samayat gets a clear shot at the goal ring, throws the ball, and scores.
An unusual sight greets visitors to Headmaster Emmanuel Mabwera’s house at Kampini Primary School, Dedza. The front room has been converted into a workshop for the Mother Group, which coordinates between the school and local community. Old fashioned sewing machines sit on desks, surrounded by old clothes and materials. The mothers are hard at work sewing sanitary pads for adolescent girls, to prevent them missing school during their periods.
On Sunday 20 May 2018, Lilongwe became cholera free, following an outbreak that lasted four months, affected 388 people, and claimed 18 lives. Nationally, over 900 people were affected with 30 deaths. The outbreak was caused by unsafe water consumption and poor hygiene and sanitation practices. Unless these underlying issues are addressed, cholera is likely to return.
The town of Mangochi sits at the southern tip of Lake Malawi. A bridge arches over the wide river that runs south from the lake. On the Mangochi side is a roundabout that circles a square brick clock tower from the colonial era, next to the white walls and colourful garden of the former governor’s mansion, now a hotel.
It’s a hot and sunny afternoon when Chief Kapoloma visits the home of teenage Fatima and her mother in Aisa village, Machinga district. He strides across the baked earth of a dried-out river bed, wearing a traditional robe and circular hat over smart shirt and trousers. The area is predominantly Muslim and there is a small brick mosque among the houses, adorned with a white star and crescent on the minaret. A cockerel calls out from a straw enclosure behind one of the mud brick houses.
At 5am in the morning, the surface of Lake Malawi is still and blue. The air is cool with a light breeze replacing the storm that raged the night before. On the far side of the lake, to the south, the mountains of Mozambique slip in and out of a cloud bank. To the north, the water stretches past small islands all the way to the horizon – a sharp line dividing dark water from pale blue sky.