Just in case you’re still reading this, here are some more photos highlighting our amazing adventure.
1210 (CAT) – At Lilongwe airport, boarding soon.
1610 (CAT) – We are at Johannesburg airport and looking forward to a milkshake! Boarding the next flight at 1915 (CAT)
0610 (BST) – We have touched down safely at Heathrow. It isn’t raining!
0720 – Aboard bus, heading home. ETA around 9am, will update here and ask students to text when we’re a bit closer.
So we move into the final proper day of our African adventure, as we have left Thornicroft and headed back to Mabuya Camp for our final night in Malawi. Students are still in great spirits but sad to be reaching the conclusion of the trip, although being sent off with a full English breakfast this morning softened the blow a little!
We start heading back to the UK tomorrow morning, so there will be one final post on here that I will update as and when we reach various checkpoints so that you can keep tabs on our journey back, and then students will contact you directly once back in the UK with an ETA on return time to CCS. Just to briefly remind you of the schedule:
2/8 13:05 Flight from Lilongwe
2/8 15:30 Arrive Johannesburg
2/8 20:00 Flight from Johannesburg
3/8 06:25 Arrive Heathrow
3/8 08:00 Drive from Heathrow
3/8 09:30 Arrive CCS
HP, KS, EB, ST, IB, AL
We’re coming to the end of our trip and it’s been a great experience, filled with everything we hoped for and more.
Malawi was the place for work, but there was nothing more rewarding than seeing the smiling faces on the kids’ faces when we played games with them. Spending time at Butterfly Space was amazing, especially since everyone (both us and the locals) got on so well. It was very sad to leave but so inspiring to see the difference that Alice has made, and the difference we were able to make as well.
Then, it was time to move onto our next adventure; we were so ready for an actual bed, flushing toilets, food that isn’t rice, etc…
In Zambia, waking up at 5am for safari was a struggle, but once we saw all of the animals up close, we realised it was well worth it.
We just have to say that after this whole experience, one thing we are missing is our flat, tarmaced roads.
HP (look forward to seeing you soon)
KS (who is excited for a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake)
EB (can’t wait for sausage and mash)
ST (please can I place an order of pizza and garlic bread, can’t wait to see you soon)
IB (I’m excited for cuddles from Sunny and mum’s good food)
AL (who can’t wait for her freshly-flipped mattress and full jar of Nutella waiting for me)
EM, AW, DW, HM, TP, AT
Hey everyone. We arrived in Zambia on Friday after an 8 hour bus journey and we felt like VIPs as we walked in and were handed fresh juice on a tray. We were shown to our chalets which were luxury… There was a proper look that flushed instead of a pot in the ground and a proper shower that was hot. After we got shown around our chalets, we saw massive hippos in the river! We got called to dinner by a drum, we had a three-course meal that was very lovely. We are missing Butterfly Space and Malawi very much, especially all the work we did with the children. But we are loving our holiday section of the trip.
Missing you lots. Can’t wait to see you in a few days time, lots of love.
APr, JS, TK, TW, APa, JK
We have all been having an incredible experience, which we will be sad to see the end of, but it has been even better than we expected it to be. We are currently sat in the sunshine at Thornicroft Lodge, having completed three safaris in which we saw lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and even two leopards last night. The lodge is awesome and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Looking back on Malawi, it was an eye-opening and humbling experience, which none of us will forget in a hurry. However, the tedious coach journeys were not great.
Food choices when we return!
APr – Domino’s pizza
jS – steak and ale pie with gravy
TK – wild mushroom risotto
APa – bacon sandwich
JK – anything but rice
TW – Domino’s pizza
Lots of love and see you soon.
OH, AB, MR, CB, WB
THe trip to Malawi has been an amazing experience. It can not be stated in words the experience given to us. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity started very differently for two of us, one of whom lost their bag and the other who was flying for the first time. The trip, from the satisfying charity work in Malawi to the incredible observations of wild animals in their natural habitat in Zambia, is non-stop, full of content and has left some of us speechless. This eye-opening experience will leave an everlasting impact on us. It was the most heartwarming feeling to have made a difference to the students of Kambuwi School. Overall, it has been just a great time, with great company and it will be a heartbreaking moment when it’s all over. We have laughed, cried, smiled and ultimately had fun. Memories have been made that will last a lifetime, changing many of us in a way you’d only understand if you came here yourself.
We made our way to Thornicroft Lodge in Zambia on Friday, which was a decent journey other than passing through the Malawian/Zambian border, where getting thirty people through was simple enough but getting the buses through was an exercise in futility for about two hours, being sent between various different huts to purchase insurance, take it to a different hut, find our there’s some other problem, head back to the first hut, rinse and repeat. Fortunately the rest of the journey was smooth and painfree. This part of the trip is intended to be the relaxing reward for the hard work students have put in, both before and during the trip, and has very much been just that. We have been well looked after and there is definitely not a shortage of food being given to us – breakfast, a cake break, lunch, another snack, and a three-course evening meal!
Of course, the main draw of being here is the safari, and that has certainly not disappointed so far. We get two safari a day for three days, meaning that essentially get 24 hours of safari, which is excellent. On safari 1, we saw and ticked off three of the so-called Big 5 – lion, elephant, and buffalo – and it is amazing to be in such close proximity to the animals in their natural habitat. On the night safari, having watched the sunset, we were eventually able to find a leopard (ticking off a fourth of the Big 5) in the dark looking for food; this was incredible to see and all students were excited by what they had witnessed across the day. Unfortunately the last of the rhinoceroses in this area was poached in 1986 so we will not be able to complete the 5, but cannot complain about the variety of animals we have seen!
Next update will be from the students, who are working on their messages right now, and then I will hopefully update again back on Mabuya Camp on Tuesday evening, before we head back to the UK and you are reunited with your children!
We spent our final day at Kambuwi Primary School on Wednesday, finishing off all three classrooms and making them look a marked improvement on what they looked like previously. We discovered that the annual grant the school receives from the state is the equivalent of £700, which doesn’t cover the staff who are paid separately but is supposed to stretch to cover all textbooks, exercise books, printing and copying, general supplies, renovations and improvements, etc. For a school with over 500 children, it is easy to see why the school is struggling.
At the end of our final day, we handed over the school donations and the staff at the school gave some heartfelt speeches about our work there and the difference it had made. In groups, we also paid a visit to the homes of some of the local families whose children attend the school.
The evening was spent packing and sorting for travels the next day, and our final evening meal at Butterfly Space. As we’d become accustomed to, there was no power for much of the evening which made sorting stuff in the dark quite tricky. Finally, though, we hit the road on Thursday morning ready for the 7-hour journey back to Mabuya Camp, saying goodbye to the space that had been our home for the last two weeks. Most students were up early to see the sunrise across the lake for the final time.
We leave for Zambia and the final leg of our journey on Friday morning, where we will spend time on an amazing African safari. Not sure what the internet picture is like at Thornicroft, but will try to keep you updated where we can. We are back at Mabuya on Tuesday evening, so worst case scenario we can update again then.
Since we last spoke, we have been mainly in the Kambuwi Primary School renovating three classrooms. It has been amazing what a difference applying a couple of coats of whitewash and adding a border has done to the classrooms, making a massive transformation and injecting some life into rooms that were previously pretty run down. As always, students have been incredible, working hard scrubbing, cleaning, painting and improving the posters in each classroom.
Today (Tuesday) afternoon, we were able to fill sixteen baby baskets with various items from your generous donations, and drop these at the maternity ward at the new hospital in Nkhata Bay to new mothers and very newborn babies. These were very gratefully received. We followed this up with a visit to the private school that was set up by Alice from Butterfly Space, to compare to the state school we have been working in. Whilst still pretty rustic, there was still a noticeable difference between the two schools, with the private school feeling far more kitted out (albeit with reasonably basic stuff) than the state one.
We didn’t meet any children at Alice’s school but the children at the Kambuwi school have taken to treating us like celebrities. Each morning they cheer and run to the bus when we arrive, and then try and shake/touch our hands as we pile off the bus as if we are some kind of rock stars! They are also extremely keen to peer through the windows and doors as we are working on the classrooms: it is not immediately apparent why they are not actually in lessons during this time but given that we have turfed them out of three of their only four classrooms, we are not questioning it too much.
Life at Butterfly Space remains fun and students (and staff) are slowly but surely adjusting to the fact that sometimes the electricity goes off for hours at a time or the water stops running from certain taps (though there is always drinking water readily available, which is excellent) or that sometimes ants come out along with the water when it’s been off for a little while! It is sad that we only have one more day here. I will attempt to upload a new batch of photos whilst here, but failing that I should definitely be able to do so once we have travelled back for our second night at Mabuya Camp on Thursday.
What a busy week! We pick up again from Tuesday, where we started the day by doing some prep for the lesson later in the week, planning what was going to happen and producing the necessary resources. Later, we took a trip to a local village that was home to a project previously set up by Butterfly Space, supporting sufferers of HIV in the local area. They welcomed us to their village and provided us with some food, and also showed us how they make “nsima”, one of the local staple foodstuffs not too dissimilar in texture to a dumpling, and gave us a tour. Like all of the people we have met so far in Malawi, they were incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and it is incredibly humbling to be fed so generously by people who have very little to give. On the way back, we also stopped off at a volunteer project/business that produces reusable sanitary pads for girls and families that cannot afford disposable ones.
On Wednesday, we took a trip to a nursery that is attached to Butterfly Space and the students were able to spend some time interacting with the very little ones who attend.
Following this, we jumped on the bus and headed out to a village that supports and houses people with physical disabilities. Again it was incredible to see such a sense of community and support and people were extremely welcoming and affable, giving us a tour of the village and on-site school, and once again giving us a meal for visiting. We also saw again more of the stages of the production of sema and students had the chance to pound some of the kasava that eventually becomes the flour to make the dish.
Thursday, we were back at school and students had an hour to deliver their prepped lesson and play some games with the local classes. Our students were excellent at delivering the lessons, to a variety of classes of varying ages. From telling a fun, moralistic story to the younger students, teaching them the words and noises of animals, to lessons about the United Kingdom and about homelife to the older ones, they were extremely involved and enthusiastic. The local children loved them being there and were extremely excited about the arrival of our bus each morning! After the lesson our students took the younger children outside and played some simple games with them, which they also loved.
After this, it was down to real work (did I just suggest teaching isn’t “real work”?!) scrubbing the walls and taking down posters ready for whitewashing the next day. All students chipped in and made many hands make light work, before we were whisked off and taken to look at another ancillary project: a peanut butter business. Students were shown the various stages of peanut butter production and also given a peanut butter sandwich and homemade doughnut for their lunch. Finally, a walk back to camp via some of the market stalls rounded off a busy morning and afternoon.
Friday up until lunchtime was then spent applying the whitewash to the two classrooms that had been scrubbed the day before, which made a massive difference to the rooms. They will need at least one more coat applying to them next week but are looking in a much better state than when we arrive. In free time, students are also recreating some of the tireder-looking posters to also help freshen up the room. In the afternoon, some students took a walk up to the school that was used during the last visit two years ago to see the work that was produced by the students back then. It was great to see that the rooms still looked reasonably fresh and that the artwork produced by the previous cohort was still looking good.
The weekend is split in half with half of the group doing their scuba dive today and then canoeing/kayaking tomorrow, and half of the group doing vice versa. All seem to be very much enjoying the variety of activities and are still just as enthusiastic as ever as we reach the halfway point of the trip.
Thanks to those that have left comments on the ‘Messages From Home’ post – they are being received but I am keeping them hidden until we have read them to the students, hopefully tomorrow night, so that they remain a surprise just in case any of them are reading the blog!
Thanks for your interaction via the comments section in the blogs as we’ve been going along. It has been great to know the blog is being read and valued, especially given some of the difficulties we have getting it online sometimes!
Each day, we have a “touchy feely” team time session, lead by Alice at Butterfly Space, where we discuss how the trip has gone so far or the things that students are missing or are grateful for. It would be really great if during one of these sessions, we could do “messages from home” to our campmates a la I’m A Celebrity. So I’d be really grateful if you could add a comment to this blog with a nice message from home addressed directly to your child, and hopefully we can get enough that we are able to read them out in one of our team time sessions later in the trip.