Couple enjoy the challenge of African volunteer work

A couple are enjoying their new life of improving the lives of children living in one of the world's poorest countries after giving up their home comforts in Norfolk.

Kathie and Les Craske had lived in Pentney, near Swaffham, for many years but left their friends and family behind and flew to Malawi to start working as missionaries three months ago.

The pair arrived at their new home on May 6 with four suitcases containing all of their belongings and have said they are settling nicely into their African environment.

Mr Craske said: 'We when arrived it was the start of the Malawian winter and we laughed as people dressed in coats, hats and even scarves in temperatures similar to an English summer.

'We are based at a children's centre in Bvumbwe, just south of Blantyre and our role here is helping as volunteers with some of the day-to-day duties in running the centre.

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'At present there are 27 resident children of varying ages and it is quite a challenge to keep all of them occupied most of the time to prevent boredom.

'For the older girls Kathie is helping them to crochet ponchos and make beaded necklaces.

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'The older boys keep busy chopping firewood for the cooking stove, looking after the various animals and attending to the vegetable garden.

'The ethos behind this is to teach them life skills that can be used in their future.'

The couple began their love affair with Africa after Mrs Craske went to care for a friend who became ill while working there.

The pair then visited Malawi twice a year for two weeks at a time for more than five years and built up close connections with Samuti village, in the south of the country.

Mrs Craske then retired from her job as a receptionist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital last year, and her 49-year-old husband gave up work at Hollinger Print in Norwich.

For Mr Craske it is the first time he has lived outside Norfolk and the couple hope to stay in the African country for at least two years.

Mrs Craske continued: 'As well as the resident children, there is a nutritional feeding programme for another 100 children from the local community.

'These children are given Likuni Phala, a nutritional porridge, in the mornings and some of these then stay for pre-school class until midday.

'About five miles away in Samuti village we are also restructuring a nursery school that we have been involved with for the past five years.

'Now we are living here we are able to monitor the well-being and progress of the children better. These also receive Likuni Phala to help give each child the vitamins and minerals they need in early development.

'We are also introducing basic teaching on good hygiene to the staff and children. This is a simple way to reduce the amount of sickness that could be fatal to these young children.

'The three teachers at the nursery have had more training and are getting ready for the new term and different teaching methods.

'These will be more like the methods used in the UK, although we have to adapt things as all the supplies we need are not readily available here.'

Anyone who would like to know more about the Craskes' work can find out more by emailing

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