Top Social

Malawi 2011

17 July 2013
(Thanks to Laura for the pictures!)

2 years ago today, I went on an amazing journey with a group of 11 incredible people.

My English teacher at the time had spent the last two years working with Habitat for Humanity - a charity which sends groups of people over to poverty-stricken countries to build safe, decent houses for families in need - and started talking to my class about the next trip. My friend and I were desperate to go and put ourselves forward literally straight away...

Our aim was to raise £22,000, and we all agreed to try and collect £1,000 each individually, leaving the remaining £10,000 to be collected as a group. The months leading up to our deadline weren't the smoothest of times, we hit a few hurdles both financially and physically, as we struggled to get a lot of support from our school at times, and a member of our group suffered from a pretty bad injury. Even so, we all soldiered on by supporting each other a lot and setting up charity events; including a talent show that raised over £3,000, and a successful Bollywood themed night. We aimed to get the whole school involved and teach them how different things were for those living in poverty.

Luckily, at the same time, we were doing some charity work for READ International, collecting books to send over to libraries, or be sold/recycled. The money would then be put towards the construction of other libraries. We managed to link the two very closely and felt like we were really making a difference.

We managed to reach our target, and jetted off to Malawi on Saturday 16th. We had a little hiccup at the start, and our flight to Ethiopa was delayed by 3 hours - this then made the wait between the two flights a lot shorter, so it wasn't all bad! We touched base Sunday morning, and spent our first day visiting a wildlife centre, which was amazing, and then went on to our hotel.

On Monday we drove to the site where we were building, and were split in half to start work on two different houses. They had both been started on, and we were assigned areas in groups of 2 or 3 to start laying bricks. We worked pretty hard for the first 2 days, taking regular breaks to drink water and play with some of the local kids. We took balls and bubbles to play with, and they all seemed to love it - we all started to make friends and recognise some of the kids when they returned. I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't melt each time they'd come and visit us.

I was grouped with one of my oldest friends, Laura, and one of the staff members, Mrs Taylor, who,  without a doubt, is one of the loveliest people I've ever met. We collectively built nearly a whole side to the house over the first day, and contributed to other parts, and it really was a lot of fun.

Our lunch was made for us by one of the locals - it was really tasty (which surprised me 'cause I'm one of the most fussiest eaters around.) We also had bottles upon bottles upon bottles of water so there was no risk of us getting dehydrated.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday, we heard there were riots planned in the town centre the next day, and it wouldn't be safe to drive around. We were unable to return to the site to build, and were pretty much confined to the hotel. We all rang our parents to let them know we were safe, but for the next couple of days we weren't allowed to leave the hotel site.

We found things to do, but we all wished we were at the site, building, and feared we would not finish. On Friday, we were able to leave the site for a short while, and travelled to a different hotel to use their swimming pool. That night, we went for a meal as a group, and invited our driver, James to join us in celebrating our final night.

Evenings were a lot of fun; we played games, did quizzes and spent a lot of time chatting (even if I was a bit quiet from a lack of sleep.) We had a TV channel with about 3 channels on... one channel showed some amazing films post-midnight, but halfway through it changed into a random football channel - that was cool.

Saturday came and we were able to visit the site before we left, to see how much had changed. The houses were looking good, and we couldn't help but imagine how much more would've been done if it weren't for the riots.

We spent a good hour playing with the kids. The kids were the main part of the journey that made me reflect on my own life. They had next to nothing, yet always had a smile on their face - it was so refreshing, as back home it's usually the complete opposite. They were playing with our empty bottles, and one kid had made himself a headpiece out of some wire he'd found.

Although things didn't run smoothly, I learnt a lot about Malawi and it's culture, a lot about the people of Malawi, and a lot about myself. It was such a magical trip, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to go with - I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Post Comment
Post a Comment