Messages from Malawi: welcome to the MM Malawi Office

It’s the end of our new Communications Officer Fatima’s first week in Malawi. In her second blog from the country, she introduces us to some of her new colleagues and tells us more about where the Malawi team work.

To get to our office you travel on one main road which consists of roundabouts, trucks, minibuses, bicycles and people walking or selling chicken, fruit and veg.

The journey to the office is dusty, sometimes windy and the sun is hot. But it’s also beautiful. Especially when you bring people into the picture. Women wear brightly coloured dresses and material – chitenjes - which drape like skirts. Men often look smart either in suits or jeans and a top. Alongside this, the bright open space offers a striking visual.

The Mary’s Meals office itself is made up of three recently renovated buildings which used to be warehouses for a construction company. The first of which includes admin, logistics and comms (that’s where I’m sat!) The second is used as a meeting room and the last of the buildings hosts the Malawi programmes team.

This is where things get a little intense and interesting. I like to think of the programmes team as Mary’s Meals' very own action team who ensure the feeding of 779,617 children across hundreds of schools in Malawi is running like clockwork. The team consists of 40 passionate school feeding officers who between them visit all of our schools in Malawi every week, twice! These guys and girls are pretty awesome and you can hear the whizzing of their motorbikes in and out of the building for most of the day. Then there’s the school feeding managers who manage the school feeding officers; a monitoring and evaluation team; and an Under 6 school feeding team.

The entire Mary’s Meals Malawi team overcome great obstacles on a daily basis to reach the schools, ensuring the feeding programme is running as smooth as can be. I naively thought after spending some time in the Scotland office learning and hearing all about the work in Malawi that I was somewhat mentally prepared to see Mary’s Meals in action in Malawi. I mean how vast could the work actually be? And monitoring twice a week? Ah, how difficult could that be?

I now know nothing could have prepared me enough to see the actual work in action. It is vast beyond comprehension. The teams are so intricately developed that there is an answer to every method and reasoning for any and every aspect of the feeding programme. And, monitoring every school twice a week – is just amazing - as most of the schools are in extremely remote rural areas. The school feeding officers do an incredible job. They manage to drive the rocky dirt roads in the dust and heat swung from side to side on their motorbikes and still return to the office with a beaming smile.

It’s a bit overwhelming and every now and then I take a step back to take it all in.

It’s an immense privilege to be here and when I think of all the wonderful supporters and volunteers who make the feeding of over 1 million children worldwide possible every day I’m simply awestruck.

My colleagues here in Malawi, in Scotland and elsewhere are sincere and passionate people and I’m filled with excitement to be working alongside them. I feel honoured to be a part of the Mary’s Meals family. And, I look forward to keeping you all updated with stories and activities from the schools, children, mothers and communities that are part of the Mary’s Meals feeding programme.

Fatima

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