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The Suffering of The Children of Malawi

Updated on July 23, 2012

Who's to Blame?

Children in Malawi are suffering due a myriad of reasons. The greatest reason for this is the fact that those in charge seem to not care. The blame game is played here just like everywhere else in the world. The agencies blame the government, the government blames each individual agency. It's a nasty cycle that seems to have no end in sight.


Living Conditions

Malawi, being one of the poorest countries in the world is beset by poverty, disease, drought and famine. On top of these hardships the children are victim to the lack of child labor laws, homelessness and a general nonchalance by authorities that makes their living conditions even worse.


Drought - Running out of Food

Drought is rampant in Malawi and every child is suffering as the drought magnifies the hunger. Malnutrition is a huge cause of death among children especially since the food from the last disastrous crop of food ran out. When the rains come to this tiny country there is just barely enough food to feed the people and when there is no rain, no food. No rain and the bottom drops out, any food stores disappear and people start scrounging for anything edible like berries or leaves. Due to the drought malnutrition is widespread and malnourished children have compromised immune systems and can't fight off diseases.


Infectious Diseases

Disease is another factor for child suffering in Malawi. The list of infectious diseases in Malawi is astounding. All of the following have a very high risk. Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever these are food or waterborne. Malaria and plague are vector borne. Schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-tuh-soh-mahy-uh-sis) also know as snail fever is a water contact disease. This means all they have to do in come into contact with the contaminated water. And surprisingly rabies, which had an upsurge in 2009, is transferred by animals to humans. These are just some of the diseases that affect Malawi. Another terrible disease, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS infects about 65,000 children. And although the antiretroviral program delivers it free to the adults it hasn't yet filtered down to the children. Those children who don't have HIV usually have parents with the virus and this is nearly as deadly.


Child Labor

Child labor is a great factor in the suffering of children in Malawi. Having to work in horrible conditions for a mere pittance influences the children’s suffering. Tobacco poisoning is a huge health risk for the children of Malawi. There are as many as many as 78,000 children working in the tobacco fields working from early morning till late at night. For 12 hours of limitless work these children earn an average of R1,20. These children, some of them only 5 years old, handle the tobacco leaves, breathe in the dust from those dried leaves and even apply pesticides to the crops. If there happens to be moisture on the leaves, the moisture is then transferred to the clothing and it essentially becomes a giant nicotine patch. They do this without protective clothing which means they can absorb through their skin as much as 54 milligrams of dissolved nicotine which is the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes daily. This results in GTS, or green tobacco sickness, which has symptoms that includes abdominal pain, severe headaches, muscle weakness, coughing and breathlessness.


There are a great many elements to the suffering of a child in Malawi. All of these combine to compound suffering that the Malawi children endure. The world as a whole needs to take a great interest in what is going on in Malawi before this blight spreads to the rest of the world.

Working in Tobacco Fields


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