World Action Trip to Malawi
Thursday 26 September 2013
|On Saturday 6 July 2013, 14 Sixth Form girls set off on a World Action Trip to Malawi and Zambia. The main objectives for the trip were to give our girls the opportunity to serve others and to widen their horizons and understanding of the world by being in an environment that was completely unique and different to their own. We felt that this would allow for personal development and reflection.|
In preparation for the trip the girls were busy fundraising: they held cake sales, procured funds from the proceeds of the student magazine The Artery and hosted an International Day. The proceeds enabled us to buy stationery, football kits, sport equipment, and fictional, text and exercise books.
Whilst in Malawi we spent three days at McKenzie Primary School, where the girls painted classrooms and school signs, re-decorated the dining hall and created various designs on walls. The girls also enjoyed a Cultural Exchange day, where they spoke about traditions, customs, historical sites, music, food and games in the UK. The girls took part in netball and football matches, and really got to spend valuable time with the children. Our visit to the school commenced on the Sunday evening with an inspirational chapel service, and ended with a talent show/assembly performance put on by the children at the primary school, who by the end of the trip had become very attached to our girls. Our Sixth Form were equally sad to say goodbye to McKenzie and a number of them have discussed returning if they were to take a gap year.
We then went to FISD, the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development in Malawi. They work with schools as well as with individuals in different communities throughout rural areas in Malawi, where their main objective is to make people more self-sufficient and independent. They afford people the opportunity to set up their own businesses, and enable schools to grow their own crops and establish feeding programmes in which the local community can be actively involved. Whilst we were there the girls helped with feeding programmes in schools, as well as shelling and planting crops. We also visited the Managing Director’s home for a night of entertainment and an amazing dinner (the girls were shocked at the large disparity between the wealthiest and poorest members of society). The girls attended a university lecture on irrigation systems in Malawi and learnt about sustainability and cash crops and how people create their own businesses.
They were able to observe that many women are still unable to attend university and even secondary education is biased towards men. This was a steep learning curve for many of our girls and there was much reflection and thought on how they as individuals could make a difference. We visited a number of youth clubs for 18 to 35-year-olds. These people had been given sums of money to start up small businesses, ranging from restaurants selling chips and chicken, to bakeries and small scale pig farms, to solar power installation services. The individual entrepreneurs spoke about their individual struggles and adversities; their sheer enthusiasm and irrepressible human spirit left all of us with much to admire and venerate.
We then visited CHIHADO and Makanakoti School, where we set up some important school links and had a cultural exchange. We had a talk from people living with HIV and AIDS, which was very informative and also opened the girls’ eyes to various misconceptions about the virus and the stigma attached to the disease. The welcome we received in this village was humbling, and the people we met, who had started their own sewing services or various other mini-projects in order to sustain themselves and their families, were really inspirational.
Every evening the girls had time to reflect on their day’s experience. The trip was educational on so many levels: the girls realised that they were not going to change Africa in ten days, but their minds were opened to cultural, racial and economic disparities between the wealthy and poor within Africa, as well as in comparison to the UK. The trip planted the seed for many to make a change. As individuals they had been moved and inspired by people in Malawi, and they too had left an imprint on the lives of people in Africa. The girls were wonderful ambassadors for Queenswood and for the UK.