We provide you with an excerpt from Alastair's journal as well as a wonderful video that he created which documents the AIDS epidemic ravaging the country. AIDS, in addition to hunger, has had a devastating impact on Malawi but WFP is working to improve the situation.
Alastair took the time to record a first person account of the situation on the ground. Admittedly, his video is a bit difficult to watch but please be sure to read through the text to the end as Alastair closes on a positive note.
Kasungu district has over 200 schools but 44 have been targeted by the UN World Food Program (WFP) to be part of the School Feeding Program (SFP). My job will be to improve the facilities at these schools, in particular the kitchen and food preparation facilities. WFP has targeted schools as vital link in the battle to break this chain of poverty where a primary education can make a significant contribution. By providing a meal at school parents are encouraged to send their children to school and if the girls and orphans attend for at least 18 days a month they earn the right to take home a valuable 50kg bag of maize which is the stable diet in Malawi.
Alastair serves food from the school kitchen he helped restore. Photo: WFP/Alastair Cook
So going back to Chibisa School, the first of the 44 schools we plan to visit. My first vision was seeing a class of 97 small children sitting neatly under a large tree attentively listening to the teacher whose only equipment was a very old blackboard. They were all reciting after him their multiplication tables, their enthusiasm was easy to hear and already I was captivated by what I heard.
As I climbed out of our four-wheel drive vehicle and began to walk across the 50 metres of dust and in the centre of the school yard I saw a tiny tree, only a few centimetres tall, struggling to grow. Some caring person had also recognised this and placed some twigs around it as protection. At that very moment I realised that what I was looking at had a direct parallel with what I could hear, hope and optimism, the future of Malawi… at the moment Malawi could do with a lot more of this.