The Orphan Care Centre (OCC) operates within the building where the Church of God in Ndirande (Malawi) meets. It originally opened in the church’s old meeting place, but this was always intended as a stopgap measure. Space was limited and it was in the middle of a congested slum. Muddy water ran off the steep street outside in the rainy season and the children walked some distance to the open area used for outdoor play.
Meanwhile the church’s rapid growth in numbers also called for a new building. In 2009, after much negotiating and hard work, they moved into their new location. It’s on the very edge of the urban sprawl, looking directly upon the beautiful Ndirande mountain. As the picture shows, it’s a very large and attractive building in its own grounds, so there is plenty of space to play!
It is a place of safety where the staff really care for the children. At the time of the visit there were 24 (now between 30 and 40) and they were a picture of happiness and contentment. They were most anxious to sing to the visitors in English, not their own language of Chichewa. They come each day into their large playground, safe within the compound of Ndirande’s church building, a short walk from the third largest township in Africa.
In addition to the children there are three teachers, two cooks and a sister who manages everything – all operating in an area for indoor and outdoor experience and fun. When they are old enough each one will have a story to tell. Education offers them the opportunity to transform sadness to social and educational success. This is the beginning. This school is a place of love and learning and the second generation of children once more have a great start on the journey to become happy, valued and effective citizens of Malawi.
Now we are back home, our minds are still captured by a small face – now 6,000 miles away and months apart, she still speaks to us of the quiet confidence that we can have for her future. She asks for nothing except the same opportunities that many of us had growing up – to enjoy and understand life in a loving, healthy Christian environment. We can help make the ‘warm heart of Africa’ a place for her to be proud of and one to which she can contribute.