Down a dirt-track road from the Livingstonia plateau lives a family whose lives tell a wider story of life in rural Malawi.
Their small but proudly kept dwelling is home to 74-year-old Loveness with her 85-year-old husband Jackson, and her 19-year-old grand-daughter Rabekah, a recent divorcee, who fled domestic abuse, along with her son. All surviving off the meagre sales they make from farming bananas as a subsistence level.
Loveness, however, has cervical cancer and is now experiencing frequent pains and dizzy spells. Currently she has no drugs for her pain. Last week, her codeine ran out, and she can afford no more.
“We are subsistence farmers of bananas. We sell bananas along the road, and whatever money we get we buy some drugs. With the money I have I can’t afford my full prescription, so I just get as many tablets as my money will pay for. Then I have to come back home, get the bananas, sell them and hope to get enough money to finish the prescription. Because of the weakness, though, I am no longer strong enough to go and sell the bananas.”
The family, here, are struggling in so many ways. Rabekah and her son arrived at her grandparents’ door when she was fleeing domestic violence. “The third month after I gave birth to our son,“ says Rabekah, who, pink-haired and beautiful, looks far too young to have gone through all she has experienced, “he started beating me. One day he tied me with a rope on the neck and he said he wanted to kill me. I was admitted to the hospital because of my injuries.” Like many young women in Malawi, where child marriage is common but illegal, she married early, and was a teenager when she had her first child.
Her grandfather Jackson, at 85 years old, also has health problems, though he still talks with a vibrant smile. He can no longer really eat, he says. “They cook me food but I sometimes vomit. So they make me porridge. I drink that. I don’t know why I vomit.” He still, he says, makes the walk down the escarpment road, which stretches from the plateau to the distant lakeside, to sell bananas or get what they need.
Rabekah has found safety and security once again in the home of her grandparents, and with the care of EMMS-supported David Gordon Memorial Hospital. However, as the grand-daughter it now falls to her to care for her sick and elderly family, alongside raising her own young son.
Life has been very difficult for on so young, and is not set to get easier. However, with the support of DGMH that your gifts provide, the burden is lifted. Giving Rabekah the hope of a better life for herself and her family.
Show your support for Rabekah, and other girls like her in Malawi, here today.
Written by Vicky Allan, Sunday Herald.
Full article published in the Sunday Herald on 17th December 2017, available onlive via www.heraldscotland.com.
(Pictures taken by Chris Hoskins: Rabekah and her family)