I didn’t mind getting up early to meet Ben. Ben is my age and lives in a nearby village with no roads or electricity. He gets up and starts his jobs when it is light and I was going to meet him.
His house is square with 3 metre long sides. The thatched roof comes very low and we sat under it to chat. Florian from Mary’s Meals translated for us. Ben liked my photos from home. He doesn’t understand snow because he has never seen it. He liked my sheep and hens though. Ben didn’t have any toys but his friends had a car made out of a milk bottle. I have never met anyone with no toys.
Ben has to help his mum with jobs if he is not at school. I went with him to fetch water. The pump is a long way away and Ben carries the water home on his head. I tried to carry a small bucket home and I got very wet.
Dad helped Ben with his bucket and said it was very difficult. Once we got the water to Ben’s house it was time to go to school. Ben doesn’t wear shoes and he is much faster than me walking also. It wasn’t hot yet because it was still very early. It was hard to keep up with Ben up the hills. I spotted the school in the distance. I didn’t realise what it was because it is just a few buildings. There is no sign and the classrooms have no doors or windows. Inside there are plastic benches to sit on given by the last president. They are the colour of his political party.
Ben likes school and wants to be a doctor. I told him Mum is a doctor and he thought that was lucky for me so that I always had the right medicines. Primary school is free in Malawi and you must pass a written exam to get into the next year. Classes have lots of different ages because of this. Ben gets a Mary’s Meal every day and he showed me his mug. He likes the likuni phala because it gives him enough energy to study well. I was hungry at Ben’s school after getting water and walking there even though I had a breakfast. Ben’s family only have enough food for an evening meal and so he gets nothing before school.
I played lots of games in the playground with all the children that came. I learnt new skipping games and new clapping games.
I gave Ben a football from Scotland. We had a lot of fun playing catch. He tricked me by looking at his brother but throwing the ball to me. Ben was so happy I forgot he was hungry. I don’t think Ben forgets.