Our Story

The Beginning-The inspiration behind Love Support Unite

In 2007 Alice Pulford, first went on a teaching placement for 5 months where she fell in love with Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city.

Alice returned in 2008 to travel the country further and a third time in 2009 this time with a stronger head than ever before after deciding that running Tilinanu and the Love Support Unite Foundation was the career path she wanted to pursue.

After some fundraising Alice returned to Lilongwe not knowing what area she was going to develop. It was during this trip that Alice met Mercy Mkandawire and her family. Mercy was already looking out for some 400 of the village who either had no parents or whose parents were unable to support them. The children gathered on the Mkandawire’s family land in Area 49 in Lilongwe Sector 4, Malawi, where they meet every afternoon, to have supervised porridge, education and games.

On this land there was a derelict church abandoned prior to its completion in 2004 due to a political feud. The building consisted of three walls and foundations. The Mkandawire family donated this land and building to Tilinanu, however they had no money to complete the building. Mercy and her son Gift had always dreamt of competing this building and transforming it into a safe haven for the children to sleep, rest and play. Alice and the Pulford family stepped in to raise funds and offer their help to complete the project.

The dream of having a stable base, home and centre for the children in the village came true on Saturday 29th August 2009 when Tilinanu was opened and became a safe haven for 34 girls where they have the food, education, love and precious support that every child deserves.

Alice says that her mum, Yvonne and sister Nina were so supportive of what she was trying to achieve giving her the support and stability she needed to make Tilinanu’s first steps.
Without the hospitality, love and trust, that the Mkandawire family showed to Alice none of this would have been possible. They are her Malawian Family and work incredibly hard for Tilinanu and the lives it touches.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

The creation of Love Support Unite

Love Support Unite grew out of the work at its sister charity, Tilinanu Orphanage. The experience made Alice only more aware of the urgent needs of wider communities in Malawi, and, so, with the help of her sister, Nina, Love Support Unite was born. Alice and Nina’s vision and tireless enthusiasm have already helped change to the lives of thousands of people, and both have received David Cameron’s Points of Light Award for outstanding volunteering.

LSU takes creative approaches to fundraising, including the sale of Love Specs at UK and European music festivals – love-tinted diffraction spectacles that turn points of light into fractal rainbow hearts! 

Our Founders (and heros)

Nina Roots

Nina Roots

Nina is a Project Manager and one of our original founders.  She studied at de Montfort University in Leicester and graduated with a degree in Marketing & Business.  These days Nina spends a lot of time at the projects she manages in Malawi. She is incredibly hard working and inspires all around her. Her  selflessness and her determination have enabled her to really change lives in Malawi.

Nina got involved with Tilinanu Orphanage in 2009 and is now a Trustee of Tilinanu. She developed the idea of using LoveSpecs as a fundraising platform for Love Support Unite Africa Foundation.  She and her sister – Alice Pulford – have grown the charity to where it is now in 2018.

Nina is inspired by the life changing possibilities of permaculture and sustainability.

Alice Pulford

Alice Pulford

Project Manager/Fundraising

Alice is the cornerstone of the whole organisation.  She is the founder and also a Trustee of Tilinanu Orphanage as well as a founder of Love Support Unite Africa Foundation.

Today Alice also works as a Project Manager and Fundraiser for Love Support Unite Africa Foundation and is instrumental in driving the reach of LoveSpecs through festivals in the EU.

She’s an inspiration to so many people and has incredible energy and vision. She started Tilinanu Orphanage with Mercy in 2009 when she was only 19.

Most of her time is spent on developing the different projects in Malawi. Her work and commitment has been widely recognised. In 2015 Alice was named Britain’s Best Volunteer by the Small Charities Coalition and in 2016 Alice and Nina were named as the latest ‘Points of Light’ by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. She has also won the Margarette Award of the Inner Wheel.

Alice is passionate about the power of education to help change lives.

Gift Mkandawire

Gift Mkandawire

Malawi Director

Gift is our Malawian Project Manager and also head of the Tilnanu Orphanage.  He is also the son of Mercy Mkandawire, and co-founder of Tilinanu. He is fully dedicated to making a success of all our projects in Malawi. He is a true precious gem.

Gift wears a variety of hats including that of Director of Love Support Unite Foundation Malawi. We have worked with Gift since our journey began in Malawi 2009.  He is a brother to our founders Alice and Nina. Gift is our first contact with communities and with the Malawian team. Our work in Malawi could not have come this far without him.

If you volunteer with us you are guaranteed to meet him.