Malawi Blog Post #3 – Melissa Bougdanos

The first week in Malawi went by so quickly! So much happened during the first week between meeting the women from the villages, organizing activities with the children at MCM, and physically and emotionally adjusting to our new environment. I noticed how quickly time was passing and how exhausted I was at the end of each day. Finally when the weekend came around, I was really looking forward to going to a wildlife reserve called Majete.

Majete Game Reserve, Blantyre, Malawi
Majete Game Reserve, Blantyre, Malawi
Family of Elephants, Majete Game Reserve
Family of Elephants, Majete Game Reserve

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrived at the game reserve park and got into a safari jeep. We started driving around and started seeing the animals pop up! We saw impala, water hogs, hippos, crocodiles and so many more animals! It was absolutely amazing. I was looking around and spotted a family of elephants!!!! I really appreciated having the time to take it easy and really enjoy nature and everything Malawi has to offer.

Mt. Mulanje, Blantyre, Malawi
Mt. Mulanje, Blantyre, Malawi
The Mt. Mulanje hiking crew!
The Mt. Mulanje hiking crew!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, a couple of us were feeling adventurous and decided to leave at 6:00 a.m. to hike Mt. Mulanje. Caught between wanting to catch up on some much needed rest and wanting to explore, my adventurous side won and I found myself super excited to see another side of Malawi. I found out that the highest point in Central Africa is called “Sapitwa” which translates into “a place where people do not go.” It takes two days to hike up to the peak. You would have to hike up, then stay overnight in a hut and then continue your journey.

Likhubula waterfalls, Mt. Mulanje
Likhubula waterfalls, Mt. Mulanje

I would have loved to do this! Due to a shortage of time we hiked up to the Likhubula waterfall, which was absolutely beautiful. Next time I come to Malawi, I plan to conquer Saptitwa!

During the first week our team took the time to explore career opportunities and desires with the older children at MCM. Then we started planning field trips for the second week. We were going to take about 40 children in small groups to different places according to what careers and jobs they were interested in. We had been planning this since before arriving to Malawi, but it was more complicated to actually figure out the logistics of the trips. Once we figured out what places we were going to take them, everything just fell into place.

Cheering and saying bye to their friends going on the field trip at MCM
Children cheering and saying bye to their friends going on the field trip at MCM

In the morning the kids would get into the minivan departing for the trip and the younger children would be there to cheer and send them off. The music in the van would be playing and they would be dancing and were so happy seeing their friends off. It was such a joy to see. I know that these children couldn’t wait until their friends got back to hear all about their adventure.

Two classmates and I took a group of 14 children to the Teachers Training College in Blantyre. With the help of Phoebe, we were able arrange a tour for the children of the campus. We toured their facilities, dining hall and the children got to see a class of college students in session. The tour of the campus was so great. It was very educational and really provided children with insight of what a college is like. I think it was very motivating for the children and when I asked a couple of the girls (who wanted to become teachers) what they thought of the place, they excitedly said that they would want to come here!

Our group at the Teachers Training College, Blantyre Malawi
Our group at the Teachers Training College, Blantyre Malawi

After the tour of the college, we brought them back to Annie’s Lodge. The staff generously took time off their schedule to show the lodge’s facilities and taught the children how to make a bed. The children were shy and in a completely new environment. I could see apprehension and curiosity but also wonder and excitement. I’m so happy that we were able to arrange these trips for the students. It is so important that they see the world out there and all the possibilities. I hope the groups that visit MCM in the future will be able to continue these trips and and help the children to see and think of life beyond their village and realize all the opportunities that are out there.

The last week in Malawi also went by so quickly. Soon enough, our last day at MCM came around and we were already preparing to say our goodbyes. It was incredibly emotional standing on the stage saying goodbye to all the little faces and wonderful people we had just met. I will dearly miss all the children at MCM. I loved waking up and spending my days working and playing with the kids. It warmed my heart each and every time one of them called out “Aunty Melissa”.

Melissa saying goodbye to new friends copy
Melissa saying goodbye to new friends copy
Games at MCM
Games at MCM

I will miss Phoebe, the wonderful social director of MCM who works so hard and truly is the spirit of MCM. I admire her so much. It was a pleasure meeting Henock, the educational director who does such a great job running the mission, and everyone who makes MCM such a wonderful place. I’m looking forward to staying connected to the children and the program.

This trip has truly been exceptional. I have travelled to countries as both a tourist and a student but the things that I have gotten to experience during my time in Malawi has been like no other. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to see Malawi through the lens that I had. I was able to walk through the villages, talk to the local villagers, interview them, and really listen to what they had to say. I have taken away so much from this trip. The Women’s Initiative is such a powerful project that will help the community in so many ways. This trip to Malawi has gone way too fast but what I have learned here in such a short time amazes me. I’m truly thankful to have been able to come to such a wonderful place, meet all these amazing people and have been part of such a meaningful program. I can’t wait to see how the initiative progresses and hopefully make my way back to Malawi someday soon!!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s