Happy ‘Memory’ from Malawi trip

Emotional meeting: Joan and Brian Kirk with Memory Gondwe.
Emotional meeting: Joan and Brian Kirk with Memory Gondwe.

MEETING the Malawian child they have sponsored to go to school marked an emotional 50th wedding anniversary for a couple from Kirton End.

Joan and Brian Kirk decided to fly across the world to find out how they had helped 11-year-old Memory Gondwe, rather than celebrating with family and friends.

The couple arranged the trip with anti-poverty charity ActionAid, which they have supported since 1998.

Joan (72) said: “About 12 years ago I went out there through St John Ambulance to do some first aid training.

“While there I had the opportunity to talk to some of the people and because my background was nursing education, I asked some of the children how often they went to school.

“They said because they had to pay they had to do whatever they could. It cost one penny a day to go.”

When she returned, Joan contacted ActionAid and asked if she could sponsor a child in Malawi.

Memory is the second child to have been educated with the help of Joan and Brian.

The couple first spent a week on Zanzibar Island to celebrate Brian’s 73rd birthday and their anniversary.

Staff at the Hilton Doubletree gave them an extra surprise for the special occasion by removing the contents of the hotel’s kitchen and dining room on to the beach for a party.

Joan and Brian then moved on to Mzuzu to meet ActionAid staff for the three hour drive to see Memory.

Joan said it was an emotional meeting when they finally arrived in her village of Rumphi.

“It was the highlight of the trip,” explained Joan. “The photo I had was of a small girl.

“When we got to her village the whole family were all around and this beautiful little girl walked towards us.

“Her parents were very happy to see us. Memory told us she had new clothes for the occasion, which is something that doesn’t happen very often.”

Joan and Brian were able to hand out exercise books and pencils to children in the village.

In turn, the couple were presented with a large basket which said ‘for your golden jubilee’.