Postcard from Malawi’s tobacco lands

I’m back in Malawi, fondly (and so correctly) known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’. Today marks my completion of a month in the country, during which I’ve been on assignment for the European UnionConcern Universal, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). Keep an eye on these pages as well as my newsletter over the next couple of months to find out more about what I’ve been up to and to see some of the fruits of my labours. In the meantime, I have a postcard for you:

humanitarian development hiv aids pmtct tobacco africa malawi 49260 Postcard from Malawis tobacco lands

Working to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV among Malawi’s tobacco farmers.

Tobacco, by far Malawi’s most significant cash crop, is unlikely to ever be the focus of an assignment for me as an international development photographer. Hardly surprising, given that it kills millions every year. I don’t see why it shouldn’t form the backdrop for the occasional image, though. After all, the drying process is aesthetically very appealing (at least, in my opinion), while the income from this kind of farming sustains millions in this largely cash strapped country.

So, in this postcard, I’ve not shied away from using the beautiful backdrop presented to me by tobacco leaves hung up to dry under the dusk sky. The image comes from a series shot for EGPAF in a rural community near Lilongwe, and features a Health Surveillance Assistant (HSA) checking the health record book an HIV-positive mother keeps for her small child as part of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) efforts.