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LVF managing director, Nigel Coates recently boarded a plane at Heathrow Airport and flew to rural Malawi, where he spent ten days with a group of 11 others working on a community project organised by the Joshua Charity in a village called Daniel in the south of one of the least developed countries on the planet.

Talking to the Yorkshire Post after he returned from the trip in November 2017 he said:

"Looking back, I can honestly say that the closer I came to leaving the UK the greater my trepidation grew – not helped in the slightest by the growing list of medicines and inoculations I was required to take in preparation for a trip to Africa.

That said, my determination to go through with the trip didn’t waver. It was something I’d wanted to do for years, and thankfully it happened because back in 2016 my bank manager told me about a trip he’d taken to Malawi, and I responded by saying, “tell me if you plan to go again and I’ll come along too.” He did. And I did. And it was an experience that turned my view of the world upside down and back to front – and I’m certain it would have a similar effect on absolutely anybody sharing the same experience.

To put it succinctly, absolutely nothing prepares you for life in rural Malawi.

We may grumble about life in Yorkshire, but so many of the things we take for granted – our homes; the food in our fridges; the water coming out of the tap; showers; flushing toilets; and the clothes we pick from our jam-packed wardrobes every day – simply aren’t there for the families I met and worked with in Africa.

The project the team I was working with were tasked with building a feeding station, which when complete will be run by members of the local community to provide children from Daniel and other surrounding villages with a centre that they can visit every day with the guarantee of being fed. And they come. Every single day. Some walking great distances across rugged terrain in blistering heat to receive what for many will be there only meal of the day – an uninviting small bowl of maize porridge. To witness these small children sitting on the floor eating their meagre rations is hard to bear and a haunting image that will stay with me for many years to come.

Then there were the two brothers amongst a crowd of children who gathered to play football with us during a break from building, as we kicked the football around we noticed that they were sharing a pair of well-worn oversized Crocs between them – one shoe each.

Those are just two examples from the many heart-breaking moments that saw me returning to Leeds with a seething sense of injustice at the fact that we live in a world where so many have so little. I know I by myself can’t affect widespread change, but I can do my part to help – and I will. I’ll be going back to Malawi in 2019, and in 2018 I’ll be fundraising to make sure the project I worked on, and others like it come to fruition."

Nigel travelled to Malawi with Inspire Worldwide.

Author: Nigel Coates

Nigel is the founder and managing director of LVF Packaging, having founded the business with his father in 1987. Renowned for his forthright opinion on a host of industry related topics, which have led to him being sought for comment by local newspapers and trade magazines. Most recently he has spoken out against the Plastic Packaging Tax in Packaging News and on the demonisation of plastic as a packaging material in the Yorkshire Post.