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.
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.
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.
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)
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.