The poor neighbourhood of Ndirande is only a few miles away from the centre of Blantyre, Malawi’s second biggest city. Dusty foot paths connect the small huts scattered all over the landscape, here and there men and women are molding bricks out of mud.

Steven is one of them. Together with his wife Ani and his four children, the 42 year old man is living in a small stone building a short walk away from the main road. Since 2015 Steven has been a Community Volunteer for St John’s Mother and Baby Programme. "I heard about St John from one of my friends”, Steven remembers. “I wrote a letter and asked how I can become a volunteer. St John invited me for an interview. The organisation provided the necessary training and gave me a uniform and shoes."

Today, 37 volunteers are promoting St John’s safe motherhood programme in Ndirande, but only five of them are men. Their role is crucial for the success of our programme. In Malawi men still make most decisions. That the reason why male volunteers talk to expecting and new fathers and explain their role and responsibilities in supporting their spouses.

Most men don’t want to get involved in their wives pregnancy” Steven says. “But they feel better after they learn how easy it is to support their partners.

For four days per week, Steven visits families with expectant or new fathers at home to educate them about saving money for items their partners need to take to the hospital for delivery, such as razor blades, gloves or soap, but also to pay for the transport when the baby is due.

"Men are often not at home when I come and visit”, Steven points out. “I ask the woman when the husband will be back to make sure I can meet them, even if I have to go back at night or on the weekend."

Since he started being a volunteer, Steven has visited hundreds of families. St John makes sure his knowledge is up to date through regular trainings.

When Steven’s wife Ani was pregnant, there was no doubt that Steven would support his wife the best way he could. "I supported here to go to ANC frequently, but also to prepare the things she needed for the delivery. You also don’t have to buy expensive food for a healthy diet. Everything can be easily found in our area."

Learn more about our Mother and Baby Programme