Ragged clothing, serious illness: Hallmarks of vicious poverty

Mabvuto was forced to drop out of school because he had nothing to wear but tattered clothes and routinely suffered from preventable illness. Access to basic clothing and medication could make a world of difference for children like him.

Story and photos by Wezzie Banda, World Vision Malawi.
Published September 5, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

“I stopped…going to school last year because I don’t have clothes and my friends laugh at me,” explains 9-year-old Mabvuto, who lives in rural Malawi.

However, that doesn’t mean that the young boy doesn’t have aspirations for his future.

Donning a torn, black-and-red striped jersey, along with white trousers turned the color brown from dirt, Mabvuto says he dreams of being a teacher.

“I would like to teach English and art. I love to draw,” Mabvuto says, forcing a half smile.

But without education, Mabvuto will never be able to teach others.

A daily struggle

In his village in Malawi, young Mabvuto lives with his Aunt Fiona, his cousins, and his siblings. Fiona took in Mabvuto and his siblings when he was just 9 months old. Their mother perished when a car hit her; their father abandoned the children a few days later.

Fiona, who works in her small garden, struggles to keep the children healthy and fed.

“I am forced to dig deep into my pockets to purchase charcoal and wood, which I use for the children,” Fiona says. She spends every last penny on daily necessities.

There is no money left to buy clothing for the children. Fiona notes that her house is leaky and lacks proper ventilation, and the children often get sick with pneumonia and malaria.

Threadbare clothes steal dignity

Meanwhile, Mabvuto faces daily humiliation because of his circumstances.

“They say my clothes smell, while others crack jokes saying that I am not able to change my clothes because they were glued to my body,” Mabvuto laments, adding that the insults really hurt.

Mabvuto wears hand-me-downs from his elder cousins and brothers. The clothes are tattered and not fit to be worn.

“Since birth, Mabvuto has never felt how it feels to put on new clothes and shoes. I feel pity for him, and this makes me cry,” Fiona says, nearly in tears. “I just don’t know what to do.”

Clothing critical for good health and self-esteem

The lack of basics like clothing and shoes can have serious consequences, leaving children susceptible to illness and infection from harsh weather, worms, or parasites.

The absence of decent clothing also takes a serious toll on a child’s self-esteem.

World Vision receives brand-new, top-quality donated products, like shoes, clothing, and medications, from generous corporate partners. Gifts from donors help us ship and distribute these products to children, families, and communities who need them most.

If basic clothing or medicine is what’s needed to keep children like Mabvuto in school, then such donations can make a world of difference.

Looking forward to a brighter future

In the meantime, Fiona was able to harvest three bags of maize and a tin of peas this year.

Even though the harvest won’t be enough for the whole year, she is determined to sell part of it to buy used clothing for Mabvuto. “I would like to see Mabvuto going back to school, and I will buy him a shirt and…short[s],” Fiona says.

Fiona and the children are hopeful that someday life is going to change. “I keep telling the children to have courage, have faith, and stay positive,” Fiona explains.

Three ways you can help

Please pray for children like Mabvuto whose impoverished living conditions deny them access to basics like warm, durable clothing and life-saving medications. Thank God for World Vision’s generous corporate partners, whose donations help provide hope for these children.

Make a one-time gift to help provide clothing and medicines to children in need. Your donation will multiply in impact to help ship and distribute new clothing, sturdy shoes, and life-saving medicines and supplies to areas where the need is greatest, like rural Malawi.

Sponsor a child in Malawi today. Your love and support for a boy or girl in need will help provide essentials like nutritious food, clean water, education, and medical care, establishing stability for the present and hope for the future.