College Service Trip to Malawi

August 04, 2015 at 4:15 PM

Thanks to student reporter Isabella Denholm

On the final day of Term 3, 18 students and 5 staff headed off with bags packed full of supplies for a country almost all of us knew nothing about.  We were going to experience what it meant to be a teenager living in Malawi and to see the impact of the funds Saint Kentigern has raised through the 40-hour Famine. Three  flights and 30 hours later we finally arrived in Malawi - all very excited and eager to get going.

To start our trip we got a taste of Malawi culture. We went on a safari, climbed the breath-taking Mt Mulanje, and jumped into one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen.  We attended a local church service and before we knew it, we were all up the front dancing and singing along in a language none of us knew.

One of the first highlights was when we travelled to Mulanje and met Chief Onga. That night he told us his inspiring story of becoming a Chief. He shared his beliefs on youth empowerment and gave advice on how to become a great leader. It was really incredible – this African Chief from the other side of the world, giving us Kiwi teenagers such powerful and relevant advice! 

We then visited several ADPs (Area Development Programmes) that World Vision and Saint Kentigern have been working with. We were always greeted by a sea of energetic children singing, dancing and welcoming us.  Immediately we all felt happy to be there.

A lot of our time at the ADPs was simply spent dancing, singing and playing with the children in the different villages. The village kids showed us many of their traditional dances and always laughed at our attempts to join in. This was a definite highlight for so many of us – the amount of joy these kids had was incredible. They had so little, yet they always had the biggest smiles on their faces and their happiness was truly contagious.

Chigodi Secondary School (CSS) is where the majority of our famine funds have been going to. We stayed there for three days, living and sleeping in the village with the CSS students. We were greeted by the students singing their anthem to us and were all in awe of their beautiful singing voices.

Singing aside, we were all soon engaging and laughing with the students. Throughout the day we listened to their lessons, taught some of our own and played sport with the students.

That night we went back to our accommodation which was essentially a small, simple mud hut. We had no mattresses or bedding and five of us from school squashed on the floor along with some cockroaches and beetles. We helped our host family prepare the local staple food for dinner called nshima.   Eating nshima was definitely a challenge for everyone. Whilst we weren’t fans of it, whenever we asked a Chigodi student what their favourite meal was, they would say it was nshima.  We soon came to realize this was because the students didn’t really know any other food. 

The following mornings we walked to the pump to collect water and carried it on our heads back to our host homes to cook breakfast. By the time we got home there was  more water spilt down our backs than there was left in the buckets. We spent the days re-painting classrooms, attempting to harvest the crops and building desks. We were able to see how Saint Kentigern’s 2014 famine funds has helped through providing goats, desks and much more. One night we played the movie ‘Lion King’ for the students using a white duvet as a makeshift projector. For the majority of CSS students, this was their first time they had watched a movie and they were captivated by it!   Before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes and we drove out of the school smiling and waving to the newfound friends we knew we would never forget.

Malawi was an amazing trip with so many highlights. We sang, we danced, we laughed, we cried and the villages we stayed in were so rich with happiness, love and with generosity.

From this trip we’ve all really learnt how privileged we are here in New Zealand. In this ‘world of opportunities’ we are so fortunate and have so many opportunities that lie ahead for us. Through acts of love, we have the opportunity to have such a big impact on their lives over there. From our experience in Malawi, I think we can all confidently say now, that through one little act of love at a time, we can change the world.

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