ELSPETH BAECKE, BCAo
In 2004, Elspeth first visited Malawi where she bought a piece of land, on Elspeth’s return to the UK she set up the charity Smile Malawi. The charity started a one-woman project, and using her skills as a civil engineer, Elspeth built a home for orphans. This is now home to 37 children, who would otherwise be left on the streets.
Elspeth has helped the children to become self-sufficient by growing fruit and vegetables on the land, raising pigs and chickens to feed themselves and to sell. As well as providing a safe environment for the children, the home also offers employment to many local people. Elspeth supports local villages with the construction of bore holes, providing villagers with access to fresh water.
Elspeth is a qualified maths teacher, and today she supports the Malawi local junior school which has only 10 teachers to teach 2000 students. She has donated books, writing materials and sports equipment to improve the futures of the children. In 2015, Malawi experienced some of the most prolonged and heavy rains ever known, resulting in severe flooding and extensive damage. Smile Malawi organised an appeal to help the orphanage staff whose houses had almost been destroyed. Elspeth travelled to the remote village of Tizola, where one camp had become home to 204 families and had received virtually no aid.
Elspeth organised a further two trips, taking 1.5 tonnes of muchneeded food, soap, salt and sugar. Elspeth works full time in London as an engineer for Transport for London, which helps to fund two trips annually to Malawi.
Nominated by Helen Jeffers