Messages from Malawi – Introducing Fatima

Fatima recently joined the Mary’s Meals team as our new Communications Officer for Malawi. In her first blog she’ll share her first impressions of her new home but before that, we’d like to introduce her to you properly…

What were you doing before you joined Mary’s Meals?

Before I joined Mary’s Meals I was working for a humanitarian aid organisation as a Communications Officer. The organisation focused on worldwide emergency relief and long-term development and during my time there I worked in the field in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and that’s where my passion to work in the field grew. Witnessing the work, speaking to families, living amongst the community and then being able to communicate this to the donors was truly a privilege and extremely humbling. And, from there onwards that’s where I wanted to be – in the field - I wanted to see and feel the impact of the work and then relay this back to the amazing supporters who were making so much of a difference to communities they had never met.

When did you first hear about Mary’s Meals?

I first heard about Mary’s Meals when Child 31 was released and popped up on my Facebook timeline. I remember watching the video during lunch at work and trying to blink my tears in as the stories unravelled. I had my speakers on loud so it grabbed my colleague’s attentions too. By the end of it, we all had tissues in hand with wet eyes trying to avoid looking at one another. That’s when one of my colleagues mentioned how it’d be the perfect place for me to work. And, I’d never forgotten that comment since.

What attracted you to working in Malawi?

Ah, Malawi is always one of those countries which crops up in development discussions and so it’s always been on my bucket list of countries where I’d like to work. Admittedly though, Malawi has always held that extra special place in my heart as it’s where my father and much of my family grew up. My father considers Malawi as one of his homes so I feel extremely privileged to be working for a worthwhile cause in a country where I have so much family heritage. Come to think of it, I knew more about Malawi than I did about Scotland when I was offered the comms role at Mary’s Meals!

Why did you want to work for Mary’s Meals?

I have a million and one answers to this question! But, if I had to choose one it would be because I fell in love with how very simply it proposes a sustainable solution to hunger whilst empowering entire communities. It’s quite selfish but I wanted to be a part of that! No matter how small or minute the role I wanted to know in my heart that I had some part to play. The sincerity and sheer passion with which the work was being done is also one of the reasons that had me drawn to Mary’s Meals.

What are you most looking forward to about your role and living in Malawi?

Oh gosh! Where do I start…there’s many things I’m looking forward to from experiencing the African culture to actually being a part of the community. But, there’s no denying it the one – okay two – things I am most looking forward to is meeting, spending time and getting to know all those children, mothers and communities who are receiving MM and being able to relay these stories back to MM’s dedicated supporters and volunteers who are making all the work possible. The second thing I’m most looking forward to is seeing the work in action – meeting and working with the Malawi team and witnessing the incredible mothers and volunteers cook the phala and serve it to the children – and then of course tasting some phala myself!

Part of Fatima’s job will be to travel to schools across Malawi, meeting the children who receive Mary’s Meals. In this, her first blog from Malawi, she shares her experience of her first few days in the country, where Mary’s Meals are feeding 25% of the primary school children.

Hello all from a very sunny Blantyre in Malawi!

Now that I have been here for a few days I wanted to share a quick update of my first impressions of the country. Let me start with the scene I’m settling into.

Blantyre is a spacious busy city with a serene backdrop. There are no sky scrapers, towering buildings or even two story houses to interrupt the city’s skyline, instead it is made up of mountains and lush green fields. So far, from what I have seen of Malawi in my trip from the airport to my accommodation is that this is a land of vast natural beauty.

However, you don’t have to travel far to see the crippling levels of poverty that exist here. And, that’s why without yet having visited the schools or seeing Mary’s Meals Malawi in action I have already begun to understand the positive impact MM is having on the lives of thousands every day. Mary’s Meals’ incredible supporters and volunteers are truly giving hope and empowering generations to come in a land where poverty has crippled society.

I’ll never forget the moment today when I landed in the country; as I was being driven from the airport to the office and saw for the first time young school children barefooted in their mismatched school uniforms running on the dry mud road or play fighting at the bus stop and I couldn’t help but smile. Those are the very children Mary’s Meals is providing hope to in a very simple way– empowering them to a better future. And, after a long 48 hours consisting of frantic packing, emotional farewells and an 11 hour flight I couldn’t have hoped for a better reason to smile.

I’ve got a feeling when I have my first visit to the office tomorrow I’ll have plenty more reasons to smile.


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