Thomas waits on an old boat for any leftover fish to eat in Malawi

Waiting for fish

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Tukombo is a thriving fishing village with no fewer than 350 – 400 fishing gear owners, predominantly all fishing for usipa fish.

After a night on the Lake, the hustle and bustle in the morning is a sight to be seen – the fishermen returning home with their catch, the buying and drying of the fish and children running around trying to get a few fish for their own lunch.

Meet 11-year-old Thomas. A regular at Tukombo as his father buys and dry’s the usipa fish before selling on to buyers in Blantyre or Lilongwe.

He sat patiently for the fishermen to sell their fish before joining other eager children to grab the few leftover fish at the bottom of the boat, the perfect amount for his lunch he said.

It’s the school holidays in Malawi and although Thomas told us that he attends school, he is only in Standard 3. Students don’t progress to the next year group unless they pass their end of year exams but given his age, many of his peers are likely to be in Standard 5 or 6 now.

It is not uncommon in busy fishing villages like this one for boys to stop attending school and follow in their father’s footsteps – and with Thomas’ mother living two and a half hours away in the city, it’s not incomprehensible that he might not attend school every day of the week during term time.

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