Desk Officer Peter recently visited Project Trust’s volunteers in Malawi. Here are five things he learned on the visit:

Our volunteers are adapting well to rural conditions… 

The majority of Malawi is still very rural, especially in comparison to countries like South Africa and Nigeria which have big, cosmopolitan cities. As soon as you’re out of the main towns in Malawi you’re into what would be considered traditional Malawian villages. We have a new project for this year where our volunteers have no electricity, no running water and a long drop toilet. But all our volunteers are adapting really well to a rural lifestyle which is extremely different to what they were used to in the UK.

…and have quickly gone through a transition from school pupils to role models

The roles and high levels of responsibility our volunteers take on in Malawi give them a dramatically different perspective on the world, and it is remarkable to think that just six months ago they were school pupils themselves. In one project our volunteers are living and working in an orphanage. They teach the children during the day, and then in the evening the two Project Trust volunteers and two local women are responsible for looking after the kids. Our volunteers are acting as a stable presence and role models to children from very difficult backgrounds. Working in rural communities and making a really positive impact of other peoples’ lives is an incredible opportunity for our young volunteers.

NAME teaching a class in Malawi

Juliet teaching a class in Malawi

Our volunteers have quickly formed strong bonds with the children they’re working with

There was a young boy at one of the projects I visited who our volunteers introduced me to. He was upset that he didn’t have anyone to send a Christmas card to, so I said he could send me one. Last week the Christmas decoration he’d sent to me arrived on Coll. It’s really emphasised how strong the bonds our volunteers have made with the children they’re working with, and the decoration has taken pride of place in the Project Trust office.

NAME at work in Malawi

Katherine at work in Malawi

Current Malawian politics can take you by surprise

Recent political change in Malawi has led to the volunteers hearing some interesting views on how a country can be governed. Some Malawians argue that the country was better run under Hastings Kamuzu Banda, President from 1966 – 1994. For people brought up in Britain, where the concepts of a one-party system or a President for Life would be considered political anathema, it is very surprising to hear people arguing that a country was better run under such governance.

Thank you and Merry Christmas (especially to Mrs Allan and Mr Edwards)

The parents of two of our volunteers have made a massive effort to make Christmas a great day in their children’s’ projects. Mrs Allan has organised a shoe box appeal, and has sent around 100 boxes to her daughter’s project. The boxes include a toothbrush and toothpaste, which are going to be used to start a healthy living programme. Mr Edwards, whose daughter is at a different project, has sent a film of himself dressed as Santa with a message for the kids. He’s also donated some money, so the children will have a present on Christmas day. Both these fantastic contributions will make sure Christmas is a really special day in the projects.