Saturday, 13 October 2012

Sunday 30th sept- Meeting Ben and his family

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.


  1. This is a really good post - you're very smart, and it's great that you're getting this kind of world education so young - you've already done so much for others, and I imagine that you'll do even more as you get older. When you wrote "Ben was so happy I forgot he was hungry. I don’t think Ben forgets" it hit me right in the heart! Very observent and wise of you. Keep up the good work!

  2. Wow Martha, you really are amazing. What a wonderful experience you are having and sharing with all of us. I can't imagine how children learn in a school like the one in the picture, or how they walk so far on an empty belly to do it. Thank you for being such a thoughtful young lady and telling us about your trip and all the things you are seeing.

    I can't imagine not having any toys, most children take their toys for granted. These children need meals, which you are helping to provide along with all those who follow your blog and have given to Mary's Meals... but they need so much more. I wish we could send them toys and books too. Do you know how we could do that? Maybe while you are there you can ask for an address or organization there that would accept the gifts for Ben and his friends.

    Keep the updates coming. <3

    1. I read in one book the story of someone stationed on one of the Anti Aircraft gun sites around Scapa Flow on Orkney. There was a farm near their battery so they got to know the family, they had a daughter around Martha's age who was shy at first but got used to the soldiers. She also did not have any toys, all she had was a box full of postcards from around the world. They kept in touch with the family, after the war the girl went to university in Edinburgh and became a medical doctor.

  3. This entire post is wonderful - it's amazing to see and hear from you what you're doing. Your last line will echo in my head for quite awhile, I think. What a reminder.

  4. You have 8 million page views-you are amazing. Everyone who visits your page should donate 10 cents. I bet that is a lot of kitchens!

  5. This is the first time I'm leaving a comment on your page. I've been watching for months though. You my dear are amazing. I'm sure many people say that to you though. Being there with children that have nothing must be very hard on you. I think my heart would be weeping the entire time. I hope you stay safe while there. I look forward to seeing these posts as often as they appear.

  6. It's really exciting to hear about your trip. Your comment about Ben's hunger was both very eloquently expressed and very thoughtful. I hope the rest of the trip goes well.

  7. I entirely agree with above letters, amazing is the word that describes you Martha, the photographs are wonderful. Ever considered inviting some of the children you met for a return visit to Scotland.

  8. you're making me proud, VEG! you've done more at such a young age then most people do in a lifetime. we could all learn from you.

  9. Great report Martha, well written.

    If you look at the time of Charles Dickens, few people had toys, or what we would think of as toys.

    Last week I went to an art exhibition The Children of the Poor, illustrations by Edith Farmiloe of children in the London parishes of Soho and Hackney around 1895-1909.

    Some of them were taken from the book Rag, Tag, and Bobtail (1899) which was illustrated by Edith Farmiloe with verse by Winifred Parnell.

    The illustrations in Guildford House showed children playing a game where you hit a bicycle wheel down the street with a stick (I cannot recall what it is called), playing hopscotch.

    Sadly I did not give the exhibition the attention it deserved as I was on my way somewhere else.

    The pictures were of a period my grandparents would have grown up in as children.

    Click through the picture, follow the links, and you will come to an album of pictures, and there you will see some of the simple toys and the games they played. When I have time, I will also post the verse that goes with each picture.