Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with over half the population earning less than $1 per day.
Mphatso’s grandparents earn a small amount by working on other people’s farms. However, it is not enough to be able to support his education.
A typical day in Mphatso’s life
“I wake up at 6am. First I wash my face. Then I go to work on our farm. Next, I walk to the river to collect water.
“I make mats in the afternoon. First I cut the palm leaves from the fields. Then I dry them. Next I cut them into small pieces. Finally, I weave the pieces together. It takes me 6 hours to make one mat!
“Every Thursday, I sell the mats at the market. I sell each mat for about 100 kwecha (that’s 20p). I have to walk to the market. I leave at 7am and arrive by midday.
“I don’t go to school any more. My mother died when I was seven, and my father lives in another village with his new wife. There is no one to buy my uniform, books or writing materials.
” I envy my friends who go to school. I was eight years old the last time I went, but if I go now without a uniform the teachers chase me away. My friends will be able to read and write and if you don’t have these skills, you can’t do anything.
” Sometimes I have to wait until the evening to eat. My favourite food is nsima – a porridge made from corn. Some days there is no food at all.”
Case study © ActionAid
Photo © Graeme Robertson, Karen Garvin / ActionAid