Largs Academy Partnership Trip to Mzambazi, Malawi. Our Blog

19th June 2019- 4th July 2019

Staff: Mrs Tait, Miss Griffiths and Miss Dempsey

Pupils: Alexander Amatt, Emily Blair, Claire Cairns, Danny Casey, Layla Harris, Eleanor Jones, Joanna Louis, Harry McGill and Niamh McGinty.

Departure Day by Miss Griffiths

Wednesday 19th June – it was finally here! After months and months of planning the trip, fundraising and working together as a team to prepare it was time to set off. We were a mass of violet coloured hoodies meeting in Glasgow airport and we said our goodbyes to all of the families. I was filled with excitement to return to Malawi after being there 2 years ago with Mrs Tait and Miss Dempsey. Even more so we were looking forward to watching this group of pupils see and experience everything for the first time. The flights seemed to go in surprisingly fast as we had little waiting time in between, especially between Amsterdam and Kenya where we had to run across the terminal to make it. Luckily we had cross country champion Harry McGill leading the way. I enjoyed the flights: watching the flight path crossing the equator, sampling the airplane food and looking out for Mt Kilimanjaro. Almost 24 hours later -we had arrived. Hello Malawi – the warm heart of Africa. All 24 suitcases also arrived which was a miracle and we managed to squeeze them all onto the minibus which was even more of a miracle. We were now on our way to stay over in Mzuzu for the night.

Being greeted in Mzambazi by Joanna Louis

Despite the long drive on some very bumpy roads we were all buzzing to finally reach Mzambazi, our trusty bus Rodger had safely taken us to our final destination. Looking out the bus towards the hill, all that was visible was a sea of white shirts. I think everyone would agree our emotions took over at this point. Mama Tait asked to stop the bus and Miss Dempsey led us out capturing the moment as the seconds passed. It was extremely overwhelming to hear the cheers and singing of the pupils from Mzass. Before we knew it we were running towards each other. Each one of us was greeted by every pupil with a welcoming hug. Never in my life have I felt such a warmth like that before. The tears simply could not be held back as each student gave us a friendly embrace. Some pupils had made posters to welcome us, they were going to be our partners. As we ran downhill we could spot the large pieces of white paper with each of our names written in thick blue marker pen next to our partners’ names. Justina, my partner, found me and with a beaming smile took my hand and led me to the school. Even though we had never met before there was endless amounts to talk about. Instantly we all became friends with the students of Mzass and the partnership was instantly growing stronger. Their kind, cheerful nature immediately made us feel close to them. The language barrier, although it had to be overcome, did not disable us from having enjoyable, meaningful conversations. This first experience of Malawi will always hold a special place in my heart.

Our visit to a traditional village by Layla Harris

Today we were set to experience a day in the life of a traditional Malawian village. When we got there the welcome was incredible – the singing and dancing is amazing.

Our day at the village began with a walk in the scorching sun to the nearest water source, alongside our new partners in crime – the Mzass students we were each paired with.  Each of our partners were in form 3 as the form 4 students (those who had visited us in Largs) were extremely busy with exams. I was partnered up with a wonderful girl named Victoria; Emily with Stellia; Claire with Dorcus; Eleanor with Sellina; Niamh with Mayesa and Joanna was partnered with Justina. Alex was partnered to deputy head boy, Daniel; Harry was partnered to Head boy, Paul and, last but not least, Danny was partnered with Edwin. We all got on with our partners extremely well and with their help and guidance, our Malawi experience was made less challenging. Miss Griffiths did he same walk whilst getting to hold village baby Rose on her back.

At this water source (it just looked like a really large puddle of unclean water), we used traditional hand carved cups to scoop up the water, filling the buckets we had been provided. Once all the buckets were full, we had the amazing chance to truly embrace ourselves in African culture by carrying these buckets on our heads. Now, this probably looks easy but I assure you it is most certainly not. These Malawian women who have the task of collecting water have been doing so since the age of 5 and are a total inspiration. After resorting to holding our buckets, we made our way to the upper part of the village where the locals presented us with a number of cultural tasks. These tasks included that of clay pottery, pounding maize to make the unique tasting food nsima (seema), and weaving baskets to hold the mass amounts of maize that is collected.

After being shown all these amazing life skills and having a shot at them ourselves, the locals performed traditional Malawian dances. This is the point where we all realised that Harry and Mr Saka’s – the secondary schools head teacher -friendship had blossomed. Mr Saka made Harry get up to join in with the tribal dances and to everyone’s enjoyment, Harry shook his hips like Shakira. Harry’s hips don’t lie.

At the end of the many wonderful performances, we then gifted the amazing village people soya pieces, sugar, salt, soap, buckets (which we used for collecting the water) and toys for the children. The people of this village also gifted us with a large sum of fresh fruit and a chicken which we named gravy (my idea). The people we met that day have truly left a mark on each and every one of us. We will never forget their kindness and the warmth within their community as they welcomed 12 complete strangers into their way of life. We really were home.

Lessons at Mzass and Secondary Sports Day by Niamh McGinty

This was our first day of proper school and we were greeted by our friends as we arrived at the school around 8am. We started off with Agriculture which is a very important subject in Malawi because so many people rely on farming as their source of income. We were taught about how farmers grow mushrooms. I enjoyed Agriculture because it’s a totally new subject to me. Our next lesson was Maths and believe me when I say I had no clue what was going on I really mean it! Luckily Harry was there to save the day and managed to solve an equation in record time. After Maths it was time for break, we were treated to fizzy juice and homemade donuts which were delicious! After break we were treated to a Social Subjects lesson with Madame Pilirani. She taught us all about gender bias in Malawi and how men have an unfair advantage. It was very difficult to hear how difficult it is for girls and women but we were assured that there was work being done to create a more equal society both within the school and the country as a whole. We had a lovely lunch of rice and beef with our friends and then went to English for some comprehension work. It was interesting to see that most of the work they do is just very similar to what we do back home.

Miss Dempsey helped us organise ‘Rounders’ and ‘Japanese Speed Ball’ to play with the secondary students. We all really enjoyed Japanese Speed Ball (even though the Malawians decided to make some slight modifications to the rules) and Rounders was brilliant although it was difficult to get anyone out as they’re all so fast! The Mzambazi students enjoyed watching us trying to outrun them (and failing miserably) with our long skirts on. You could feel the excitement in the air as a team mate made it home safe and the noises of disappointment when they were put out. Miss Dempsey announced that there was an extra 10 points up for grabs for the best team celebration so there was great excitement trying to come up with an outstanding performance. There was jumping, dabbing and marching. Alex’s team won the overall games and Joanna and Claire won best celebration with a “tropical dance”.

Overall the day was great and it was amazing to see the student’s delight at the new sports equipment we had brought for them. The friendly competition brought us all closer and let us meet some of the students we had never met before.

Visit to Mzambazi Nursery by Emily Blair.

We had all really enjoyed our first few days in Mzambazi and were well and truly settled in because of our amazing welcome. We were extremely excited for the coming day as we were visiting the nursery in the morning. As we headed over we took some gifts such as balloons, bubbles and colouring books because they love using them. When we arrived some children were full of energy and others shy but they all eventually came around when we passed out the balloons, sunglasses and lollipops. Although the building was very simple, the nursery was very open, had a nice atmosphere and was filled with lots of toys and decorations. Almost straight away Danny had a new friend called Favour and he was kept busy entertaining him on the toy car. The rest of the children were catching bubbles, eating popping candy and colouring in. Almost all of them wanted a piggy back or to be spun around as they found it extremely funny. After tiring out every one of us with carrying them, we took them outside to play in their park. They all loved the slide and the toy car although there was many arguments between them to get a shot. Some preferred to just sit and have songs sung to them like the Hokey Cokey and they were full of laughter and smiles. After spending time with the children we all came to the conclusion that we wanted to keep these new friends forever. If this was possible I’m sure there would be more than 12 people returning to Glasgow. Despite this, the time came when we had to leave the nursery which was very sad for all of us as even in a short amount of time they were able to bring us so much joy and happiness.

Visit to the Primary School by Harry McGill

Our day with the primary school started with the head teacher Daniel giving us a tour around all the classrooms. In every class, from standard 1 to standard 8, there were well over 100 kids crammed in with no tables or chairs and in some  classes like standard 1 and 2 (primary 1 and 2 in Scotland) there were over 200 students. Can you imagine the risk assessment for that? We were then taken to the staffroom for break where we enjoyed some refreshing soft drinks and had time for a chat with all of the lovely staff members. Claire even spotted a Mrs Lunday classic on the wall: “a problem shared is a problem halved!” It was incredible to see all of the amazing things everyone in the school was doing – staff and pupils alike – with so little resources. Most classes were just empty rooms containing a blackboard and chalk with the occasional alphabet or number line hung on home-made bunting. The pupil’s attentive attitudes and the enthusiastic atmosphere towards learning around the school was inspiring to say the least. After our whistle-stop tour it was time for some performances from the pupils. We were invited to sit under a beautifully built thatched hut with the staff as the rest of the school gathered around in a semicircle leaving a “stage” in the centre. Some of the students’ dances were extremely intricate and complicated and their sense of rhythm was impeccable. This was further evidence exemplifying how talented the Mzambazi primary students were and how it came so naturally to them. Then it was our turn. To be fair to ourselves we did a pretty good job joining in the dancing but the Malawians were still streaks ahead. They made it look so easy! Following one fiendishly tricky dance Daniel kindly asked the boys to step aside as the next one was traditionally female only and believe me, you should have seen the look of relief on our faces! It was time for lunch and we returned to the parish for, you guessed it: more rice and chicken. After yet another deliciously prepared meal we returned to the primary school as next on the agenda was sports. In the days preceding primary sports day, we were all frantically scratching our heads to come up with ideas of what games to do but luckily there had been a misunderstanding and the activities had already been decided. Danny, Claire and I were assigned football and ironically we had the largest space (a full-sized pitch) for the smallest number of people (two eleven a side teams). We had a great time and were blissfully unaware of the struggles everyone else was experiencing. Poor Eleanor was left to fend for herself having to coordinate the netball game single handedly. As for everyone else, despite having a five strong team plus Rhoda, they were left with the mammoth task of occupying the very youngest kids. Hundreds of them. It quickly descended into chaos with valiant attempts of the birdie dance, the hokey cokey and Duck Duck Goose. Although we were sweating at the lack of control the children were having a great time. The games brought to an end a successful, yet eventful day, where we were shown again how talented, upbeat and inspiring the young people of Mzambazi are which is right at the heart of what is helping this special community to thrive.

Visiting the Triplets and Maternity Ward by Claire Cairns

A week into our life changing exchange visit to Mzambazi we were welcomed into the home of a mother and her gorgeous triplets. The little boy had been named Stefan, one girl was known as Blessing and the other as Naomi. Madam handed a baby each to Mama Tait, Rhoda and Miss Dempsey to have the first hold. Blessing refused to be held without wriggling and crying, whereas Stefan had one or two photos before he became restless. However, Naomi was the most intrigued of the triplets about the unfamiliar faces which each took their turn holding and getting photos with her. They all adored the hand-knitted teddies that were gifted to them and their mother was extremely thankful for the clothes and blankets we provided for each child.

Although we were only present in the house for less than 30 minutes it was clear how much happiness and pride the mother got from her young family but also how difficult it was for a mother to look after and feed three babies at once.

After a short walk from the home of the triplets we reached the maternity hospital where we were joined by Sister Florence. Favour also appeared and was calling Danny ‘daddy’! We were brought to the maternity ward where there were several new arrivals. 8 mothers filled the room, each cradling their own content bundle of joy. Meeting the newborns was extremely heartwarming for us all. Seeing the tiny babies wrapped in layers of blankets (some just one day old) emphasised the importance of our fundraising throughout the year. Presenting the mother’s with small bags of sweets and clothes for their babies, watching their faces light up with gratitude was truly uplifting.

Outside the maternity ward women from the village gathered to perform some traditional dances, as the expecting mothers watched on we were encouraged to dance alongside them. Although the steps looked relatively simple due to the Malawians performing them, when it came to us copying them, it was a good laugh at least.

Today was also a very special day for us especially Mama Tait, Miss Griffiths and Miss Dempsey as we were reunited with Grace who our group met back in 2017. She was a baby in the maternity hospital whose mother had passed and the school have been fundraising ever since for food supplies for her. It was so emotional and incredible to see how she has grown into a very happy and healthy young girl.

Visit to Vwaza Game Reserve by Alexander Amatt

The day started early like all the others had, we woke up at 5:30 am even though there would be no mass. Mrs Tait wanted an early departure as she knew the morning was a good time to see the animals. We were all exhausted on the bus journey but when we finally arrived at Vwaza we were instantly blown away by the scale and variety of the animals there (including all the peculiar insects). The first large animal we spotted was a hippopotamus and there was not just one, but at least twenty (above the surface). After sitting near the lake where we spotted the hippos something truly amazing happened. One by one a full troop of baboons appeared out of nowhere. We were meant to get on the bus but we had to wait as the ranger expected animals would be coming to drink at the lake soon which ended up playing in our favour as a herd of elephants finally appeared at the side of lake. The ranger made us get in the bus and we headed towards them. When we got close – but not too close – we noticed the elephants were also with a small baby. The sheer majesty of them brought a tear to my eye. After that we worked our way around the reserve in the bus (which was incredibly hot) and saw impala and more baboons. Then we came back to the lake side and ate lunch which as usual was chicken and rice. On the way back we stopped at father Isaiah’s house and his church. The church was beautiful to say the least, and the picture on the wall was similar impressive artwork just like on the wall in the Mzambazi church. We finally returned exhausted, yet energized from all the events of the day. Danny’s friend Francisco turned up and gave Danny a chicken which we named Caesar. We had dinner, chilled in the lounge and then finally hit the hay.

Farewell Talent Show by Eleanor Jones

Throughout our 9 days in Mzambazi we all managed to showcase a range of skills and talents such as magic and singing. I stupidly sang ‘Uchindami’ (a song that is sung at Sunday mass in Malawi) on the bus on our journey to Mzambazi – I was then made to sing a further 20 or so times, so not surprisingly it was put in the talent show.

To keep us entertained at night the boys performed magic tricks. They had 3 tricks Jack of the Castle, Guess the Card and Guess the Object which required either Danny or Alex to read Harry’s mind – this one was by far the best as no one could figure out how they did it. This was also added to our talent show line up.

After our visit to the maternity hospital the sister Florence organised a performance by the hospital staff after watching them dance and joining in we felt obliged to perform something ourselves so all the girls sang “Bana-ha”. Father Raymond or “baby priest” then became obsessed with this song and kept getting us all to burst into song at random times of the day. He also became our choir master. ‘Bana-ha’ was also added to line up.

Emily, Layla and Joanna made up a dance to Dancing Queen for the show and after Harry announced he could play ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ on the piano and Danny revealed he knew all the words we all decided to sing it as a group as well as singing Flower of Scotland. Miss Griffiths also wrote a lovely poem about Malawi.

The day finally came and we all felt very underprepared but the show must go on. The Malawians went first and put on many outstanding performances from acrobatics to comedies to their beautiful singing and dancing. Every act was spectacularly flawless yet somehow seemed so effortless.

Next up was us. We performed Flower of Scotland first then Dancing Queen, both of which went very well. Then the boys were up with their magic tricks the students of MZASS were blown away as they like us had no idea how they did it.

Then it was time for Don’t Stop Me No, a performance none of us will be able to forget. It was dreadful. Nothing went to plan and we were all in fits of laughter including Mrs Tait who was howling in the corner. However, I’m sure the Malawians found it very entertaining.

The good thing was that whatever we did next would seem amazing compared to our last performance. Luckily it was Bana-ha which in practices always went well so we were sorted. To top it off Baby priest conducted and sang along with us. Miss Griffiths then read out a beautifully handwritten poem bringing tears to all our eyes.

Last was our performance of Uchindami which required us to both sing and dance at the same time – something I’ve never been very good at. We sang through it once before messing up the foot work and it was all downhill from there – at one point I looked at the audience to see one of the boys shaking his head and signaling for us to stop. We started again with the help of Violet which made it much easier and ended the show on a real high.

The showcase was closed by Claire and Niamh who read out a short speech thanking the students and teachers of MZASS for making us feel welcome at their school and for giving us memories that will stay with us forever.

Our days at Mayoka Village by Danny Casey

It was time for our Mzambazi journey to come to an end. It was an early start as we departed the village at 5.30am. We had a quick stop at the Coffee Den in Mzuzu to get some breakfast and our first Wi-Fi in 11 days but in true Malawi style it didn’t work for anyone (apart from Miss Dempsey who had to communicate with the world for us). We then drove to Nkhata Bay and were stunned by the lakeside views on approach to Mayoka Village. It was finally time to sit back and relax. We enjoyed lunch where I had an amazing Mayoka Burger. It was a brilliant change as we had been living off of chicken and rice for the past 10 days.

We took a walk into Nkhata Bay to have a look at the sellers’ wood carvings. Some of the street sellers’ names were unusual to say the least. My favourites were probably ‘Happy Coconut’ and ‘Cheese on Toast’. We made a second attempt to get Wi-Fi in the village but again we were left disappointed as the internet was down. As we walked back up, Lemon Squeeze and his fellow carvers encouraged us into their shops and we bought some of their carvings as souvenirs. Harry’s bartering was hilarious to watch but he eventually left happy with a great deal on belter of a chess set. We met a dog which followed us all the way back to Mayoka and didn’t want to leave our side so we felt obliged to give her a Nkhata Bay name – ‘Salted Caramel Sundae’ Cara for short. She followed us all over the place and eventually grew on us and some of us even wanted to take her home. Alex and Harry and I had a room right down at the edge of the lake which gave us some gorgeous views right from our door. We all met at 6pm to experience the amazing sunset together.

Day 2 at Mayoka

We got our first proper long lie of the full trip which was definitely needed! We headed to the bar for breakfast – pancakes, waffles and fry ups! Delicious! We spent another day in Nkhata Bay village, collecting our purchases from yesterday and buying even more carvings. We also finally managed to get half an hour of Wi-Fi and caught up with all of our friends and family. Back at Mayoka we had a day to relax in the sun, more great food and an early night.

Departure Day

We woke up at half 5 in the morning, we had planned to meet outside the boy’s room to watch the sunrise together. We sat on the patio lakeside and one by one shared all of our highlights and special moments of the trip. After we packed our bags we headed down for breakfast (or in my case breakfasts). We squeezed into our faithful minibus and set off for Lilongwe. We stooped off at Father Mark’s parish on the way. A verrry long 8 hours later we arrived at a hotel near the airport for some food and a freshen up before our return flights to Scotland. We headed to the airport and said our emotional goodbyes to Father Yotum and Malawi.

On arrival back in Scotland emotions were high and it was great to see our families, friends and Mr Frew waiting to greet us in the airport. We all had a truly amazing experience that we will never forget.

Welcome to the Malawi Blog

Malawi Partnership Trip June 2017

Blog Day 1
Our journey was off to that of an interesting one and we knew it wasn’t going to stop there! We all met at Glasgow airport around 11:15am with ourselves, our families and all our luggage – well, all but one piece of luggage. Unfortunately Mama Tait forgot to lift her bagpack which contained all money, boarding confirmations and mobile phone…! Thankfully one of our parents were able to come to the rescue and speed to Dalry, pick up the bagpack and make it back to the airport (just) in time – thanks Graham! After checking suitcases in and getting through security we were off! Whoop!Thankfully on the outward journey, the planes were fairly straight forward through we had strenuous waits in between flights. The only issue of flightsbeing delayed was the Nairobi to Lilongwe flight – however we were made clearly aware that this is typical “Malawi time”, I.E. Everything is very relaxed and often late (up to many hours)!Unfortunately not all of our bags have made it to Malawi. My own (Nathan’s), Lewis’, and Miss Griffiths’ personal suitcases are elsewhere and Kathryn and Michael’s donations cases are elsewhere too! Our suitcases should be delivered to Mzuzu on Tuesday, though Mzuzu is a long drive from here (roughly 100 miles) and over demanding sand tracks! These sand tracks are, I assure you, roller coaster like and great fun! If you think North Ayrshires roads were bad, then…wow! However, due to this, Lewis has benefited by buying some fantastic (and very, very colourful) traditional clothing as his carry-on luggage contained nothing but his bagpipes! Myself and Miss Griffiths have enough clothes to make it to Tuesday. Having landed in Malawi on Friday we have all been truly welcomed and immensely overwhelmed! All 9 of us, Father Phillip, Annie Swally, 23 suitcases, 9 rucksacks, fitted into 1 minibus…luxurious, I’m sure you can imagine…and then we set off for Mzuzu! However, I managed to almost get arrested despite being in the country less than 3 hours – sorry mum and dad! I was busy snapping away on my camera when police caught me doing so (admittedly, yes, my camera was pointing in their direction). Terrifyingly a soldier started pointing and shouting at me, signing to Father Phillip to pull over. Thankfully the most terrifying police officer was not the one who came to talk to me, otherwise I would definitely have not made it to Mzuzu! The officer demanded to see my photos as I was insisted I did not take a photo. I started scrolling through the photos to show there was no photos of them. My heart skipped a beat when they asked to go the other way through the photos, knowing my 2016 holiday pics and embarrassing photos were there…! Having proved my innocence he started asking where I was from – having told them Scotland they were fascinated and started talking about Chelsea F.C. His vicious stares were truly weakening and when they started talking about football I knew I was screwed…I know nothing about football (honestly, if they asked me who my favourite player was, my instinct answer was going to be Andy Murray). Finally the stressed eased off after I tried to talk myself out of the situation by forcing “how beautiful Malawi is” and “you’re all such lovely people” and everyone else is peeing themselves laughing at me behind me. He finally decided to let me go and since I’ve been paranoid to bring my camera out. I was a suspected corruption agent and fortunately I am in Mzambazi now and not prison (though was a very close call). Bonus! Our first night was spent in a cute little hostel called “joys placed” in Mzuzu where we managed to get a solid 6 hours sleep! A 5:00am rise this morning was compulsory as our first Malawian mass was at 6:15am in the Bishops house. I personally found this interesting, as did the others as it is not something was all experience at home. Breakfast and a walk was enjoyed at the Bishops house, where we bumped into some very cute little children and saw some money’s! A trip to the shops and bank were made, as well as a trip to the coffee den, then soon after we set for Mzambazi! We have only soon arrived, had a meal and look forward to a good nights sleep! Our 3 hour mass starts at 9:00am so must be ready for that! Thank you for this fantastic experience and we will have more blogs being posted during our visit! Best wishes from Mzambazi and we will be in touch soon! Nathan 🙂

Blog day 2
The first thing we did Today was attend church which was a very magical and powerful experience and one which all of us will remember – partly because we had to stand up in front of the whole church and tell everyone our names which they found amusing for some reason. The church was a fairly late start which meant that we could get a slightly longer sleep as it started at half 9 and finished at one o’clock. The music from the choir and the atmosphere was very moving indeed and it was special also as each of us were accompanied with several young children holding their hands when the church session progressed outside. The church service was a very good opportunity for us to properly integrate with the community and get to know the villagers – especially our aforementioned little friend we made – mine was called angelo and Augustine. Once we finished church, we returned back to St. John’s parish for some lunch which was very delicious. The lunch was composed of nsima, pasta, mince and coleslaw which was appreciated by all. There was a football final between the two local teams St. John’s and mzeza and thankfully St. John’s won!!! Once we finished watching the football we were able to tick a number of things off of the bucket list:visit a pit latrine, use a water pump from an underwater well, see a real life cad acacia tree from the higher geography course and turn my own mother into a personal open university for John who is some random geezer I met whilst at the local school. We also got to take an awful lot of selfies and group photos with the children who were over joyed to receive a lollipop and ballon from us before visiting the all girls hostel which was a very important building that provides girls a chance to have an education as they avoid the domestic tasks that would come with living at home. We got some laugh when we were meeting and greeting the girls and I offered one of the girls a hug since Mrs Dempsey and Mrs griffiths were getting hugs. I soon found out that this was not acceptable in the Malawian culture as all the girls and teachers fell about laughing when I offered one of the girls a hug. After getting shown around the school by Mr saka and having a laugh with the kids we returned to the parish to have dinner which to be honest gave me a fright and gave everyone else the heeby jeebies. As I picked up a fish head that still had gills, teeth, and even eyes still attached, once we had dined the blog for today was crafted. More blogs will be uploaded soon, best regards – the Malawians, blog by Lewis.

Blog Day 3
Our day started off with an early breakfast and excitement for the events to follow as we were headed to the Mzambazi High School. As we arrived we were greeted by all the pupils and staff who performed songs and their national anthem. For a small group of young children, the noise they created was beautiful and lifted everyone’s spirits even higher. The passion and love the students have for their country shone through to all of us and filled us with emotion. After the assembly we had arrived to, we were taken through to the staff room where we were introduced to the staff. We were then taken through classes in groups of 3 to observe lessons which were very eye-opening. Miss Dempsey, Kathryn and myself were taken to English where they mocked our accents and confused Kathryn with S1 grammar skills.. Sorry Mrs Carter, however Mr Higgins will be very proud as Miss Griffiths got “propane” right in chemistry. After we returned back to the school after lunch, we disgraced our country by screeching out the national anthem, all but two were horrendous however Miss Tait and I rose to the occasion and are now going on tour as a girl group – don’t worry we won’t let the fame get to our heads. Lewis, thankfully, managed to cover our “talents” with his bagpipes which the students enjoyed a lot more than our singing. After scarring the students, we listened into the headteacher’s lesson on HIV/AIDS. Many of us, including the teachers, learned a lot from that lesson and were inspired by how open they were when talking about such a sensitive issue. After learning about the school’s pigs, Miss Dempsey was keen to visit them and ended up capturing one for about 3 seconds which evidently, the squeaking piglet did not enjoy as much as Miss Dempsey did. We were then serenaded by choir music and dancing by the school students. Myself and Miss Griffiths were enjoying it so much that we joined in and after seeing how good we were, the rest joined in too. My talents were shown again and Miss Griffiths and I were keeping up no bother, perhaps she could be that backup dancer to our girl group?? Us embarrassing ourselves wasn’t the only uncomfortable thing we experienced as Miss Griffiths and all the boys used the pit latrines for the first time. Our sporty sides were shown as Miss Dempsey played girls football whilst Kathryn ran away from the ball. Once all musical and sporting talents had been displayed by the Largs students we headed home for a relaxing meal and chill in the lounge.The next blog will be updated soon but until then, best wishes from us all.
Abbey x

Blog Day 4
The day started with a 6:00am start as we all headed to mass with many students from the Mzambazi secondary school and thoroughly enjoyed the school choir and the dancing. The sound the choir creates is amazing and they all have incredible voices. We then made our way to the secondary school where Miss Dempsey lead a PE lesson in which we played a game of rounders with the Mzambazi students. The students absolutely loved the game and their reaction and happiness was overwhelming- even if things did get a bit heated and competitive towards the end! Miss Griffiths then taught two geography lessons to forms one, two and three, the students really enjoyed the lesson as Miss Griffiths taught them about seasons back in Scotland and the different air masses. They loved learning about the different weather conditions in Scotland in comparison to Malawi and giggled away when Miss Griffiths showed a picture of her garden covered in snow. Whilst making our way back to the parish for lunch we were greeted by the primary school whilst they were in their assembly. The whole school ran towards us and waved and were beyond excited to see us. It was the most incredible and overwhelming experience until Mrs Tait had to apologise to the headteacher for the disruption.  After lunch we made our way back to the secondary school and played many different Malawian sports games. We were all astonished at how athletic the children were, they all put us to shame when it was our turn to join in! Lewis then played his bagpipes once again and we danced the Gay Gordon’s with some of the pupils- we disgraced Scotland again as the Mzambazi students were better at the dance than us! After school, we came back to the parish and were introduced to Mama Tait the baby goat! Much to Miss Dempsey’s happiness we all enjoyed a cuddle with Mama Tait, even though she was devastated after a language barrier when we thought that there was ducks on chains instead of dogs on chains. Father Philip drove us in the minibus to see the neighbouring villages before dinner. In the evening myself, Abbey and Kathryn enjoyed our first shower of the trip (don’t worry, we hadn’t hit the one week mark yet without showering) before going to bed.The next blog will be up soon of the 5th day of our adventure, love from us all from Mzambazi.
Katie x

Blog day 5
Since this is the second time writing this blog (as I conveniently deleted the first one) it will hopefully will be a good one. Our day started off with a quick mass to the relief of us all as we were extremely tired from our 7th day in a row with an early rise then back for breakfast where Roda (Miss Griffiths) was delighted at the sight of sausages on the table. After breakfast we were very excited as today we were going to the Safari! Well before leaving for Malawi we had been looking forward to visiting the Safari but we were all slightly disappointed to hear that the chance of us seeing an elephant was extremely slim, thankfully there were many other exciting animals that we would see like a hippo. To get to the Safari we had to travel on the local treacherous, bumpy sand tracks (to the local people they are known as roads but to us they are far from it). Upon arriving at the reserve gates we saw a monkey in the nearby trees then we were greeted by a woman carrying a bucket of donuts for sale on her head (without any hands, a common sight in Malawi). We had to have a ranger with us to get round the safari and with him he brought a huge riffle. We took a quick toilet break before touring round the Safari and during which Miss Dempsey caught the sight of an elephant far in distance, miles away at the other side of the lake but it was amazing to see through Kathryn’s binoculars. After this we started to head down to the lake in the van and saw some birds and a cute lizard on the way however what we saw at the lake was far more impressive; there was lots of groups of hippos lying along the bay. Even just the scenery was incredible. We kept our distance from the first group of hippos but we ventured closer to the next group and got some great photos of them. They were massive animals and unbelievably ugly looking although you couldn’t deny that the little baby hippo was adorable even if it was still so large in size. Continuing driving along the lake bay we came round a corner and not so far in the distance we saw a herd of Elephants heading down to the water from the bushes to get a drink and they were crowded round a young tiny Elephant to keep it protected. We could not believe what we were seeing – a herd of Elephants not too far in front of us and they were in their natural habitat. We had gotten out the van for some pictures to see the elephants more clear but we were so engrossed that we didn’t see the elephant emerging from the bushes directly behind the van. Thankfully Mrs Tait had noticed it in time, told the ranger and he ordered us to pile back into the minibus and wait until it passed. The ranger had suggested that we follow the elephants after it had passed us but many of us weren’t comfortable so we decided to turn back and go for lunch. For the rest of the tour we saw many more animals like Impala and a humongous, gigantic spider in the toilets at the bay which made me run out of the bathroom, letting out a manly scream that echoed around the lake for everyone to hear. That night we returned home, had a lovely dinner and a long debate on the classification of Jaffa cakes where Mama Tait surprised us all with her great physics knowledge.Thanks again for reading and the next blog will be uploaded again soon,

Blog Day 6
As usual, our day started awfully early at 6am to head to mass for half 6. This morning was a relatively quick mass which meant we got to head back to the parish for breakfast and yet again  to Rhoda’s delight, it was SAUSAGES!! The excitement on her face at seeing sausages was something else. Today, we were headed for the hospital, which we have been looking forward to the whole week. Last night, we sat and made up packages containing blankets, jumpers and knitting for the babies and toiletries for the mothers. The sister took us to the post-natal ward, where there were 10 babies, with a few of them being premature. We all went to a mum, and handed over our packages which they were very grateful for. We were lucky enough to be able to hold the babies which were wrapped up in so many blankets that they were hardly visible in photos. The mum I went to was yet to name her baby girl and I was honoured to hear that she wanted to name her baby after me. When we were on route to the hospital, we heard that there was a baby girl named Grace, who’s mother had passed away at birth due to complications. We were all extremely moved by this news, and have volunteered to help this baby through her younger years to ensure she has a good upbringing and isn’t subject to harm. Once we had all had a hold of the babies, we left the hospital to head for the nursery. At the nursery, we played with the young children with balloons and bubbles. We joined in with the children’s and nursery rhymes and overall had great fun with them. We handed out tiaras and sunglasses to the kids and took photos of them as they laughed at each other and posed for the photos. After lunch, we got back into our trusty van and left along the bumpy roads for the Euthini trading market. The market was so busy, with people lining the streets either buying or selling goods. Yet again, Nathan nearly got us into deep trouble with his beloved camera as he tried to take pictures of the people selling their goods which they were not too happy about. We came home from the market and had some time to ourselves to relax before dinner. Once we had finished dinner, we played some games which got highly competitive, unfortunately for the other team, my team had the best singing voices as we lead our team to a clean victory. We all put bags together which contained pens, pencils and sweets for the secondary children and we will hand them out to them soon. Thank you for reading and our next blog will be updated soon.
Kathryn x

Blog Day 7
Friday 23rd June
Monire mose, muli makola?
Another early start this morning- well someone had to ring the church bell and wake up the full village at 6am so who better than Miss Dempsey and I to take on this important role. Breakfast was eggcellent (fried eggs and toast) and we were all set up for a busy day ahead. First stop was a visit to a local village called Zoto to experience the culture of local Malawians such as carrying litres of water on our heads, pounding the maize, carving and cooking lessons. Initial thoughts were that there would be a lot of spillage in the village! We were greeted as usual by mamma tait the goat and guard dogs fiona and Lewis at the minibus. The road to the village was that of a bumpy one and we wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m pretty sure our mini bus is invincible. The villagers gave us a very warm welcome when we arrived. The women had to sit on the ground and all of the males sat on chairs, much to boys amusement. Our first job was to experience collecting and carrying the water on our heads. This is normally just a job for the females but the boys were not getting out of this one. Mamma Tait carried one of the babies on her back in true Malawian fashion. The women sang the full way to the stream and showed off their unity and colourful personalities. We carried the water around 350m on our heads (not easy, believe me!) and every step I took whilst my neck got sorer my admiration for the women in Malawi grew stronger, they have incredible strength and willpower. We also enjoyed pounding the maize but again we very quickly realised just how weak we are. I got my hands dirty having a shot of making cement from the soil and the girls had cooking lessons on the open fire which was very interesting until the bubbling Nsima boiling on the fire started spitting at Abbey. Our farewell from the village involved more Dancing. I think Lewis, Nathan and Michael are improving (slightly!) We were overwhelmed to receive gifts from the village of wood carved utensils. What an incredible experience in what really is true Malawi. The afternoon was one we were all looking forward to- a visit to the primary school. They put on a great show for us with poems, group dancing and a spectacular tribal dancer called gule wamkulu. This was followed by an afternoon of sports with the children that miss Dempsey had planned. Her heart rate was definitely racing on finding out there was over 100 kids in each class, most of which do not yet speak english. Mrs Tait and I were responsible for the parachute game, I would say we started well but it very quickly became ‘freestyle’ as the children are so excited and lovable they hold on to you like glue. If one of them runs they all run. I resorted to the birdie dance and it melts your heart to watch them all copying with the biggest smiles on their faces. Katie enjoyed playing duck, duck goose and relay races whilst abbey and Kathryn were in charge of rounders. Nathan was on uncontrolled tig and some skipping while Lewis, after a few translations, managed some sack races and his very own made up game ‘nsima, rice and beans’. Michael confirmed he definitely does not want a career involving children. Overall we could describe it as organised chaos but the children had a wonderful time. Now for an early night all round.
Blog by Rhoda (aka Miss Griffiths)


Malawi Partnership Team—-

Here at Largs Academy we have been building a partnership between our school and Mzambazi Community Day Secondary School in Malawi.

Our partnership is set to flourish this summer as a group of 6 pupils and 3 staff will be making a life changing visit to Mzambazi. The Malawi Partnership Team will be setting off on 15th June 2017 for 2 weeks and will be staying in the heart of the Mzambazi community. During our trip we will be experiencing a day in the life of a Malawian school pupil, hosting a sports day, visiting the local nursery and hospital and embracing Malawi culture.

Introducing our Malawi Trip Pupils: Kathryn Reid, Abbey Dowdells, Katie Bell, Lewis Duff, Nathan Noble and Michael Donnachie.

They will be accompanied by Mrs Tait (RE) , Miss Griffiths (Social Subjects) and Miss Dempsey (PE).



Fundraising to support the partnership has been incredible. We have raised thousands so far which will go towards buying mosquito nets, mattresses for the boarding schools, sustainable farming techniques and helping the local premature baby unit.

We have been overwhelmed by the genoristy of the local community who have been donating wonderful knitting, football strips, stationery and loads more. Thank you very much for your support.

The Malawi Partnership Team  fundraised on 30th March with a cycle on the 7 man bike around Millport. It took some strength getting up those hills but it was all worth it!

Staff recently held a Race Night to fundraise and raised another £786. It was a great night. Big thanks to all who cam along or donated in any way.

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