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Visits to Malawi: 2014-2018

Each year since 2014, following fund-raising activities, Alice and some supporters have travelled to Malawi to work with groups of children, most of whom have lost their parents. On this page you can read about the work that has been done on each trip.
We are currently fundraising for the 2018 visit which is planned for August.

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A former school friend of Alice from Zimbabwe was working as a pastor in Malawi, and took the children under her wing. Bishop Emelda (as she is now known) was at the same time trying to help a much larger group of orphaned children, especially girls who often miss out on the opportunity for education. Working with some local church leaders, Bishop Emelda has established a charity called “Peace Halfway House” with the specific objective of promoting the education and skills of orphaned girls.

Alice saw that Malawi Smiles had to reach out beyond the immediate family to a wider group of orphaned children. More fund raising was done, including Jewellery making, and individual donations of both money and useful items of clothing enabled Alice to make her most ambitious trip to Malawi so far. This time to work with a larger group under the care of Bishop Emelda.

Alice was accompanied by Jan Campbell who had herself been active in fund raising. It is important to state that with the various trips to Malawi, Alice, Caroline and Jan all paid their own way. Everything that was raised for the children went to support them, with no administration expenses at all.

The centre piece of this visit was a week-long workshop for girls. Fifty had been expected and planned for. Seventy eight turned up!

The week was spent on several activities including art, sport, music, and jewellery making. This latter workshop developed skills that can be turned into commercial activity, as the girls can sell the jewellery they make.

At the end of the week many of the children asked Alice and Jan to stay. Of course, that was not possible. But both of them are determined to raise more funds and to return in August 2018.
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2016

Alice travelled again to Malawi and was able to secure school places for the children. She just had to trust that she would be able to raise the funds to keep paying the fees and providing for the children’s other needs.

In October 2016 we held the first event to use the title, “Malawi Smiles”. This was an evening of African and Caribbean food and music. It raised £921. Various individual donations at the same time raised the total to £1,058.
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2015

On 25th February 2015 Alice Nugent and Caroline Sauerback set off from Marlow laden with clothing, bedding, pens and school items donated by well-wishers, together with lots more goods bought with the money raised at the Charity Event and donated by various supporters; all together more than 80 kgs in their suitcases!

Special thanks go to Caroline who paid her own way, and who worked extremely hard in Malawi to improve the conditions of the children’s lives. Caroline is in the middle picture with a group of children.

The first job was to improve the accommodation. Heavy rain had caused a wall to collapse, and the roof was leaking. Alice and Caroline spent the first two days cleaning, disinfecting, and spraying insecticide. Then off to the local shops where we bought mattresses, household goods and food.

In the evenings they played games like dominoes and zentangle. They talked about the future and the children’s dreams.

They spent time teaching the children about hygiene and how to manage their lives better.
They told them about the people back in Marlow and the efforts they had made to provide the help Alice and Caroline had been able to bring. The reward was the difference they saw in the children’s lives: how they responded by making their own conditions cleaner and tidier.
The commitment then was to raise funds to be able to send the children to boarding school where in addition to education they will also find security and decent food. The cost would be about $500 for each child for a year.
In July 2015 a Crowdfunding event raised £942. In addition to this, some very generous friends made significant donations.

Click here to read Caroline's report of the visit.
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2014

It all began in 2014 when Alice Nugent, the founder of Hippopot Herbs, learned that her older sister was in ill-health and no longer able to care for her grandchildren, who had lost their parents to AIDS. Alice had previously been sending the family what money she could, but when she visited Malawi she found a very sad situation. The children had no electricity, no money for food or school uniforms and stationery. They were sleeping on the floor and the only food they had was sweet potato leaves and pumpkin seeds with pounded maize. Their grandmother, rather then being their carer, was the one who now needed care.

When Alice left to come back to Britain she told the children to look after each other as their Uncle Anthony has no job or money. She left them crying. But she realised that she could no longer support them on her own. She decided to raise money to give them the chance to go to school and to give them money for everyday needs of food and clothing.

In October 2014 £768 was raised at a Family Well-being Event in Marlow with the slogan, “She’s not heavy, she’s my sister”. Various donations in kind were made of clothing and bedding.

We were now able to start paying school fees, but it was only a first step.
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