Spring at STEKA- a visit by Anna Gilleard

Anna’s visit to

It was a privilege to spend 10 days with the STEKA family that are eternally dear to my heart. STEKA has been such a special family to me ever since I first visited in 2015, when I, like many others, was first touched by the STEKA magic.

The children have grown so much, and the home continues to thrive! Playing games in the garden, attending holiday school classes, chasing Forest the dog, and having arm wrestles. Laughter and singing is embedded in everyday life, and these joyful sounds fill the house from the morning prayers until evening hymns. Music is a big feature of life at STEKA. Joshua, now 17 years old, mixes some spirited melodies for the house to dance along to, along with his fellow music-loving chimwene (brothers) Nathan (15yrs) and Desmond. These featured in the Easter celebrations and afternoons spent hosting friends of the local church. Not-so-young Abigail, Desire, Lucy and Anisha showcased their brilliant dancing; meanwhile Fortune, Maureen and Florence were the loyal chefs cooking phala each morning for Auntie and Uncle. Older boys, Kiten, Matthews, Joseph and Andrews were always busy preparing breakfast for the family, building fires, preparing animals for food, and fixing electrics and woodwork in the house for Uncle. Every child at STEKA has a role in the running of the house, chores are shared equally and rotated along with meal plans and the daily schedule. Nyembe (beans) on a Monday, mpunga and m’kamwa (meat) on a Friday. This ensures variety, involvement and also a sense of shared ownership of family roles. Every child has their place.

The family have also created sub-committees to aid the running of the much bigger home. These are of children who are in charge of managing domestic issues concerning education, cleaning/hygiene, spirituality and discipline. This is an opportunity for the older children to have shared responsibility, problem-solve together, have a say and exercise their own decision-making. Being trusted to make decisions concerning one’s life is part of the wider STEKA philosophy of fostering independence and confidence.

STEKA graduates

Teleza, now in her 20s, works at a hotel in Blantyre. Ainess is currently at boarding school completing her studies. Gift has graduated from university, lives and works in Blantyre and works for Beehive youth employment charity. Sandra graduated from university in Film/Media and works in Mangochi with her husband, having recently celebrated their beautiful wedding.

Charles, (30yrs) lives nearby with his wife and has been working at STEKA Skills Centre until recently. He regularly visits STEKA Home to help with ironing, cooking, cleaning, and any handiwork jobs he can do to support Auntie and Uncle. Charles and his wife (since 2022) are expecting their first baby together!