At birth, my parents were told I would not be able to attend a mainstream school and were given lists of the things that my visual impairment would prevent me from doing. Nobody ever suggested that there'd be ample Hollywood career opportunities to play an evil albino monk in the Da Vinci Code and certainly nobody dreamed I'd end up as a doctor working for the NHS.
Malawi is one of those places where those who have never been don't understand its unique charm, and for those who have, it continues to capture their imaginations. Having grown up there and become used to its various quirks and differences, I can vouch for this. So why does Malawi, one of Africa's smallest countries , continue to be home for even those who have long left it?
The Malawi Government desperately needs money to tackle poverty. Yet a 1955 tax treaty with the UK is tying their hands and making it nearly impossible to collect tax from UK companies operating there. The tax treaty is so old that it was signed by the British Governor on behalf of the British colonies of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
I started the original One Day Young project in East London back in 2008, photographing over 150 mothers at home with their babies in the first twenty-four hours of life. When invited me to extend this project to Malawi, to raise awareness about women giving birth without clean water or sanitation for their Deliver Life appeal, I was apprehensive.
The region of Chikwawa is hot, remote and extremely poor with no electricity in most homes and no safe drinking water. TV production facilities in the country are almost non-existent, so we had to bring everything with us. Here I have detailed some of the statistics that made up our trip to Malawi...
While scars from the floods remain, the communities are becoming stronger than ever before with the help of clean water and improved sanitation facilities, keeping them healthy and uniting them in a common purpose to rebuild their lives. I leave with a firm image in my mind that everyday makes me smile - a water pump. Such a simple thing really can transform lives.
At VSO, we recognise that technology is no magic bullet solution but can empower teachers to deliver their lessons effectively. Unlocking Talent is part of a broad strategy for improving education in Malawi that is also increasing the number of teachers trained in using child-centred teaching methods.
Leopards are beautiful, elegant creatures. One of the "big five" in the feline family, leopards survive in the wild through their ability to camouflage and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. Unlike its sisters, the white lion and the cheetah, the leopard is very hard to find on safari despite being abundant in numbers.
For the last six years I have worked in the beautiful country of Malawi but this is the first time I'm taking a moment to really try and understand the experience and once again the people of Malawi have enlightened me, educated me. Their strength, their unity and compassion is utterly breath-taking.
Poverty in Myanmar affects ordinary Burmese families and children, with one in four of the population living in extreme poverty, but ActionAid's child sponsorship programme is really helping and making real transformations... That is why I am is backing ActionAid's Christmas appeal to find sponsors for 2,700 children across six countries in the developing world - Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ghana, Malawi, Myanmar and The Gambia - who are affected by extreme poverty or conflict to help give them a future.
I believe that if children are to enjoy their right to an education they must be taught by teachers who are properly trained and supported. There is a pressing need to consider how best to train teachers - both new teachers and up-skilling the large numbers of currently unqualified and under-qualified teachers through in-service training.