Real lives

Get to know some children who go to Children’s Corners. Some of their stories are very sad but with the help of Children’s Corners, the children are learning to be happy again.

Mphatso’s story

“My life is quite different to other children who have a mum and dad. I remember my mum loved making me tea, and whenever she came back from being away, she’d bring me a scone as a treat. When I tell my friends about what my mum used to do for me, they tell me she was a good mum. I think they’re right.

“At the Children’s Corner, I forget about my problems. We tell each other about school and tell each other stories. We play netball. I like studying in my spare time.  Agriculture is my favourite subject. I would like to be a teacher.

“This is a memory book which the Children’s Corner gave me. I write and draw things I remember from the past in it. The Children’s Corner has helped us so much. Before, we used to be so unhappy, but now my life is much better.”

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Mphatso’s granny’s story

“Their mother’s death happened suddenly. I never imagined that I would be taking care of 6 children but I had to take them in, there was no other option. At first, in my heart I was scared. I didn’t know what to do with the children. When they cried, I used to cry as well.”

“Now it’s easier for me because I learn from other women how they survive and cope. Before we went to the centre, I was struggling with school fees and uniforms but when I joined the centre they started providing the uniforms so my kids are just like any others. Now I encourage my grandchildren to work hard in school because there’s no reason why they shouldn’t go to school.”

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Mayesero’s story

“My name is Mayesero and I am six. My best friends are Jennifer and Martha. We play games together. We hold hands and dance. I like pretending that I’m cooking nsima and potatoes. I love potatoes!

“When I wake up in the morning, I sweep the yard and I wash the dishes, and I also feed the chickens. I go to the Children’s Corner in the afternoon, and I play with my friends there. I’m always happy at the Children’s Corner. We learn and we are told stories.

“Telling stories, that’s what I like best. When I’m older, I’d like to be a nurse.”

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Mayesero’s granny’s story

“Mayesero doesn’t remember her mother because she died when she was very young. She calls me mum because she thinks I’m her mother.

“It’s very hard for me to get enough upkeep for her. I can’t get enough food all the time. All the clothes she has came from the Children’s Corner, because I can never buy her clothes.

“Mayesero was a very shy young girl but when she started going to the Children’s Corner, she had more friends. Now she’s not shy at all.”

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Fabiano’s story

“My name is Fabiano and I’m 12 years old. I live with my uncle, aunt and brothers. My mother died a long time ago, when I was very young. If Mum had been around, I would have been a very happy person. I’ve only seen my father once. I would like to see him more often.

“I feel sorry for myself when I look at my friends who have parents and I don’t have any. The most painful thing is that when you have a mother then she would be the one to wake you up to get ready for school or she would fetch water in to have a wash and go to school but now I’m the one that has to do all these things.

“I get along well with my brothers. We don’t argue. I look up to them. They are hardworking guys but because I’m younger I’m very playful. I hope I will be like my brothers one day.

“I’ve been coming to the Children’s Corner for 3 years. I play football, we draw things and we’re given maths problems to solve. I like to write stories in Chichewa (one of the official languages of Malawi) and we tell each other riddles. In the future I want to carry on with school so I can help those who are helping me now, and help myself.”

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Rebecca and her granny’s story

“I have five children to look after, because their parents died. Rebecca is 4 years old, Ludiya is 2, Nestley’s 14, Matthew is 16 and Samuel is 17. I don’t have enough space to keep all of the kids. I have no money to build a bigger house so we are all squeezed in the one room here.

“The Children’s Corner is my source of help. It’s a very good place and our kids are learning a lot from it. Sometimes I take Rebecca and sometimes she goes with a group of friends.

“Before Rebecca started going she would always be around me. She wasn’t mixing with her friends. Now she’s slowly changing. She can do more with her friends, she can do more things, she can say what she wants - she’s a different child.

“Normally when she comes back she says that she was playing, and they were given a meal. She says that everyone washes their own plates. She always talks about playing a lot. I think she likes learning things. Ludiya has to go if she wants to be a clever child. I want her to learn new things, just like Rebecca is.”

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Enelise’s story

At just 13, Enelise looks after three brothers, her three-year-old sister, and her three-year-old niece – alone.

“Hi I’m 13 and I’m Enelise. I would like to be a nurse. I know it’s a nice job because you take care of other people. I like dancing. I’m happy when I’m dancing.

“My mother died and my father left us. Sometimes I cry when I remember my mum. She was a very caring mum. She made sure we had decent clothes, food all the time and she made sure we went to school.

“Now I have to take care of my sisters and brothers and do odd jobs so I can get money to buy clothes and food for them. I collect water for people – it’s hard, very hard. I just do it because I have to. The hardest thing is making sure there’s a meal every time.

“At first, it was very difficult for me to cope, but now it’s different. A community care worker called Mary has helped us. Whenever we have a problem, she’s the first person we call on and she always takes care of us.

“I would like to go to school every day but I can’t go every day. I drop the kids off at the Children’s Corner. They say they play and do different things. The Children’s Corner is where I get my inspiration and hope.”

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Esau’s story

“My name is Esau and I am 12. I play football. There are lots of other games but I’m only interested in football. I don’t have a football of my own but we made one out of string and plastic rolled together until it’s a good size. I’d like to be a policeman one day. Why? I just love it! There’s no other reason. I just love it.

“My father died in 2002. I was heartbroken. Life is more difficult now because we don’t have anyone to support us financially. My father used to like tailoring using the sewing machine. That’s the way I remember him. He used to make dresses. Sometimes he fixed radios as well.

“I’ve been going to the Children’s Corner for three years. Before I went, I used to spend my time thinking about the death of my dad. But now that I go there, I have other friends to play with and I’m learning to think of the future. The biggest thing we’re taught is to be responsible for your family if one of your parents isn’t there.

“I have a friend who I tell all my problems to. His name is Mervyn. We normally encourage each other to work hard in school so we can get good jobs.

“I want to take part in helping other orphans. I will go to the villages and encourage them to work hard in school because that’s the only way you can have a bright future.”

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George’s story

“My name is George and I’m 13. I live with my brother and sister. I don’t have any parents. They both died. I was very young then – I don’t remember anything about them. It’s very painful, especially when I see my friends with their parents.

“To earn money, I polish wooden statues. I don’t like it – we only do it for the money.

“School is my priority. My favourite subject is maths. I know that if I have to do well at school so that I can take care of myself and my family in the future. I didn’t used to go to school. Because I didn’t have a uniform, people would laugh at me. But now the Children’s Corner has bought me a uniform and I can go back.

“ I feel good when a teacher asks a question in school and I know the answer. My school gives me hope for the future. I’d like to be an engineer. In this area there are very few role models but there is one guy who lives down the road who is an engineer. ”

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Photo Credits: UNICEF UK/2006/Francois d’Elbee; UNICEF UK/2006/Kathryn Irwin