2014 marked the 50th anniversary of Malawi’s independence from the United Kingdom (UK) and the establishment of one of the peaceful nations in Africa.
Malawi is not only the warm heart of Africa, but also the genuinely friendly safe. While not as widely known as it’s neighbors, Malawi sits as an exclusive destination with unique cultures, sites, and languages. Malawi’s economy is predominantly agricultural but there has been recent successful diversification in mining, agricultural processing, and tourism. The average Malawian has a very low income and very little access to education beyond primary years. You will be working with a tight knit local organization and community. They want to share their lives, their minds, their smiles and their world with you.
Zomba District, our home base, represents a place of dreams, hopes and opportunities. Zomba District Council, together with various development partners, aims at providing an enabling environment for men, women, girls and boys to realize their potential and meet their social and economic endeavors.
Some possible projects you may be working on laying brick for school building, assisting at a health post, or painting and molding bricks for community structures. You will likely spend two days a week working with children and the last day is divided between finishing earlier projects and cultural activities.
Every Friday, there is half day at schools where you will be working. On this day you will also help youth organize various programs such as sports, entrepreneurship skills, and art and crafts.
Accommodation and Food
Volunteers stay together in a large temporary Home Stay facility in the community. Accommodation usually include running water, flushing toilet and some access to electricity enough to recharge digital camera, but the government has instituted rolling blackout.
In most instance, volunteers will be staying with community members in a domestic home setting. To ensure that your work project is meaningful, smaller groups of 1 or 2 volunteers may be put in more basic accommodation or even home stays. While these may be more spartan, they enable the volunteer to feel more connected to the host community. It also allows the coordinator to dedicate more time and effort to organize a project that is both meaningful to the community and considerate of the special needs of the small groups or individual in question.
The staple food in Malawi is nsima which is prepared with maize, flour and hot water. Think of it as a sort of thickened porridge. There are a variety of toppings and sauces that can be added to nsima. Other types of foods that are commonly found are rice spaghetti, potatoes with vegetables, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots. All meals are homemade and taken at your home stay daily.
You will have ample opportunity to explore the culture and local sights while you are in Malawi. Some activities might include a visit to the water falls, the beach, lodge, and seeing traditional dancing and drumming performances. Lake Malawi is the third largest lake in Africa and is known for its vast variety of fish. There are various cultural activities spread throughout the year. If one of these festivals occurs during your time in Malawi, the schedule will be adjusted to accommodate.
Arrival and Departure
Most international flights land at Blantyre, Malawi's capital, but several flights especially those from Johannesburg and Harare land at the business center of Blantyre in the South. There are internal flights throughout the country. Volunteers are responsible for getting themselves to the meetup location at 10:00 AM the Saturday that your program begins. You can easily grab a taxi from the airport. The cost will average $5-$10 USD.
Most volunteers will find that they need to obtain a visa un order to enter Malawi. We recommend obtaining a visa on arrival at your gateway airport into Malawi. Larger airports will always offer this option, but it is a good idea to always double check prior to departure.
Volunteers are free to depart after breakfast the last day of the program. We will help arrange transportation to the airport, but this is at the expense of the volunteer.