An African Ride to School

A friend in Malawi sent through this short film today.

My immediate thoughts were:

  • Strong legs!
  • How many children? (I count ten).
  • Do they do that every day?
  • Where are the masks, and aren’t they very close? What about safety?

My friend tells me there is no access to any PPE in the remote trading centre of Sorijin in the southern district of Nsanje. And when the children want to get to school, this is how it’s done.

Rates of COVID-19 remain low in Malawi, with a total of 183 deaths recorded to date. (Testing rates are also relatively low, but experts argue that there are other reasons why the disease has been ‘less deadly‘ across African nations).

The pandemic has, however, taken its toll on the economy and affected people’s lives. Suicides rates have risen this year, and the shutdown of schools has been linked to an increase in teen marriages and pregnancies, and more gender-based violence (problems which are not unique to Malawi).

Since schools reopened in September, the government is urging girls to return to school, even if they are newly married and pregnant. And my friend’s film highlights the lengths that people in communities will go to in order to ensure that girls can achieve an education.

I watch the video again, and this time count the number of girls.

And I try not to notice the lack of masks or social distance (or regard for any safety at all).

In fact, I feel a bit stupid from the comfort of my isolated home, with a family supply of face masks by the front door, and a car just outside it, because countries like Malawi face other ongoing killer diseases and problems – not just COVID-19.

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