JoAnne Alaric reading aloud to the children helped by the Thrive Malawi. She says “They don’t understand English and I don’t understand Chichewa

JoAnne Alaric reading aloud to the children helped by the Thrive Malawi. She says “They don’t understand English and I don’t understand Chichewa

Burton ladies assist children to thrive in Malawi

Three Burton women recently returned from charity work in Africa

Three Burton women have just returned from a trip of lifetime to Lilongwe Malawi. Mother and daughter JoAnne and Jewelle Alaric and friend Vivien Berry departed Kelowna the morning of October 1, and arrived at their African destination at noon on October 3 after more than 24 hours of flying time. JoAnne was hired to produce a documentary on the Canadian organization Thrive Malawi, who supports Malawi-based Children of Blessing Trust (COBT.) The COBT charity assists hundreds of local families with young children who have a wide variety of health issues, as there is very little social medical care. The purpose of the trip was three-fold; in addition to the documentary they were there to volunteer their time and they also brought gifts! Thanks to the donations of the Arrow Lakes communities, they were able to take eight large duffle bags stuffed with shoes, one stuffed with toothpaste and tooth brushes and $600 USD specifically for the nutrition program.

“Thank you to Nancy Balske from Touch of Fashion and the ladies from the thrift store for their time and effort collecting shoes, and to Fran and Dr. DeSandoli for their support with the dental supplies,” Berry wrote in an email to the Arrow Lakes News.

The ladies hit the ground running, heading straight out to the Crisis Nursery where Kathy and some of her team do health assessments among other things.

During a weekly epilepsy clinic held by the COBT, dispensing basic medications which can be impossible to get in Malawi is one of the main functions. Berry writes, “They assist upwards of 200 children on these days where the main description is organized chaos. Many of the folks had walked many hours to attend the clinic.”

JoAnne Alaric spoke with the Arrow Lakes News about her experience. “The place was beautiful, it was springtime and the smell of the earth was everywhere because of the lack of development and paved roads. Nobody was in a hurry. People had time for each other and they don’t waste a thing.”

Malawians recycle/reuse as much as possible remaking paper from paper, growing wonderful fruits and vegetables in their red soil which is very fertile. They use their hands to cultivate their gardens because machinery is too expensive as is the petrol required to run the machines. The Malawians message to the west is, “We are a peaceful people, we love our children and are working hard to provide a better life for them. While we do need assistance we are doing what we can to become self-sustaining.”

Alaric says, “It’s hard to come back and not be changed. I look around at how much we have. We have more than we will ever need.”


The documentary is slated to be finalized early in 2015 and screenings will be held in Burton and Nakusp, as the group is very thankful for the generous donations of goods and money which made a huge impact on the organization and children halfway around the world.