VOLUNTEER UPDATE FROM KATE – 17th April 2015 (Week 1 – first impressions)
I’m not sure where to start! Still getting my head around it all. It’s been quite a week. I arrived in Malawi last Saturday – here to volunteer at Mangochi Orphans Education and Training (MOET) school.
The headteacher, Patterson Majonanga and his wife Rose met me at Blantyre airport. On the way up to Mangochi we stopped at the hospital to visit their 17 year old niece. She had AIDS. She died the next day.
I’m staying at Mpemba Cottage right on the shore of Lake Malawi. It did need a bit of cleaning up. I think by now I have wiped out the cockroaches. And the geckos seem friendly enough.
It’s a beautiful spot. Lake Malawi is right at the bottom of the garden! There’s fishermen, kids swimming, women washing clothes, and chickens and goats roaming about. Monkeys sometimes stroll along the roof!
Monday was my first day at MOET school and everyone was very welcoming. What an inspiring place. It started out in 1999 as a grass shelter, one teacher and ten pupils. And now they have 300 pupils! (most of them orphans from the local villages). There’s a wonderful ethos and atmosphere. But resources are very tight. The school relies on funds from the charity Fomoe in the UK (www.fomoe.org) and they still struggle to make ends meet each day.
This week I have been observing lessons – I sat in on English, maths, life skills, agriculture and social and environmental sciences. Next week I’ll start teaching English grammar and computer skills.
The culture shock of being here is like a smack in the face. Cycling through the village, the living conditions are so basic. Mud huts with no sanitation. People carry their water on their heads from the lake each day. Because of the bad flooding earlier this year, a lot of the maize crops are ruined so there’s going to be hunger when it gets to harvest time.
Everything is so unfamiliar and a real shock to the system physically and mentally.
I’ll write again next week!