Grt Involved by Naomi Dunphy

Naomi la

Hey so here is my first update. I have now been in Malawi for 2 months which is slightly gutting because time already seems to be flying by so quickly. My first month was spent working with the team which came out from my church which included some of my best friends so was good banter. It took us about a day and a half traveling to get here but was well worth it to get back and see all the people and kids that I’ve built up relationships with on all my other trips.

Our first full day in Malawi was spent at a Daycare and Residence Centre that one of the previous teams from my church had set up I love going there because I have been there literally since we bought the piece of land. Just to explain Aquaid Lifeline the charity I am working with has a village, Namisu, in which is a primary school and homes for orphans from around the south part of Malawi – this is where I am staying for my year. As well as a 2nd school they also have daycares around this area, which have small residences but no school. The daycares basically work as a nursery and a homework help in the afternoon since Malawian public schools only work in the morning. They also provide 2 meals a day for all the children who otherwise would probably starve. Our church has paid for the building of 2 of these and funds the running of them.

We spent the next few days in Namisu when we basically played with the kids and held and ran an inter schools sports day which Aquaid won – woop woop! After that we went up to Kambilonjo which is the other Daycare & Residence that my church supports. It is situated way up in the mountains near the Mozambique border so is really remote and cold. – The first time I went there in 2007 they had had snow the day before we arrived! Our week was to be spent building a play park and painting the daycare with the alphabet, numbers, and days of the week and so on. We also painted the residence, which was just finished, with lots of pictures. So now some random house in a random village way up in the mountains in Malawi has painted on the wall, pictures of Donald Duck, Mini Mouse and Eyore. I think my favourite two are the sun made from handprints – probably because it was the most fun to do- and the tree which two of our proper pro artists painted and is actually amazing.

After a very productive but cold week we were finished and heading back to base camp. We had about two weeks left with the kids before they went home for about a three week holiday. I know this sounds crazy as they are orphans but they go and stay with aunts and uncles who can’t support them in the long term but are able to care and feed them for a few weeks at this time of year when most people still have food. -This is a Government Rule. These 2 weeks were spent playing games and doing crafts with the kids. Some of the girls taught them highland and modern dances that the kids are still doing now. – They loved it! Those two weeks flew past and soon the kids left and a few days later the team left. This was a wee bit emotional as that was when it hit home that I wouldn’t see them for a year.

Anyway they left three of us behind, Becky, Charis and me. Becky is my sister who spent a year here three years ago and Charis is a friend who spent three months here three years ago. They stayed two weeks longer and those were probably the busiest. We had a trip to Mulanje, which is the highest mountain in Malawi. – We took a couple of the older boarders with us and the highlight was paddling with them in a rock pool beside a waterfall. Seeing their faces when we had a water fight was really funny! We then went on a weekend trip further north to visit some friends we hadn’t seen since our first trip here in 2007. The shower was amazing! – Not only was there the usual bucket of water and cup there was also no roof, a door that didn’t shut and walls that didn’t actually join! We also ended up visiting a bunch of the kids from Namisu who all stay around that area. Then a few days later my sister Becky and I went to South Africa to sit my C.A.T. test(Clinical Aptitude Test) which was extremely eventful considering we flew in Wednesday afternoon and out Friday morning. It started with me and Bex being completely unable to find any of the hotels that we had been told to go to – the only ones we could find were super expensive ones, which were way out of our price range. In the end by phone my Dad directed us to a hotel. When we got there it was pretty much dark and we found that the place had been knocked down. At that point a random young chef said he would escort us to a different one. – it was only once we were on the way that we found out that he actually had no idea where it was either but after we stopped and asked for directions a few times we eventually made it. The next morning I had my test and in the afternoon we went to the Apartheid Museum which I recommend to anyone who goes to Johannesburg. – It’s really worth a visit and makes you think! After that we headed to the airport as we were staying in an airport hotel since our flight was early in the morning. We stood around for over half an hour waiting for the taxi guy, starting to panic a bit as we had no way of contacting the hotel since Becky’s phone battery was dead and I had no credit –thankfully he did eventually turn up. That was day two. Day three should have been fine other than the queues in the airport were super long and taking forever so we had to end up running for our plane. When we got off at the other end we went to catch the bus that my sister assured me were never full so we didn’t have to book in advance. – Well this time they were so full we couldn’t get on! We then made our way to the minibus rank but they had all gone so in the end we got on one of the national buses that took about 6 hours to make the same journey the minibuses do in 3! Eventually we were home though.

After we were back it was only a few more days till Becky and Charis were leaving which were basically spent going round different people for them to say good bye. The first Saturday after they left I had been invited to a wedding of one of the girls I’ve known since 2007, so I arranged to go with my friend Modesta who stayed with my sister during her year. She was meant to come round for me so we could get to the church for the half past 8 start. She still hadn’t arrived by 9 so I went looking for her. I got to her house about 5 minutes later and found her in her normal wear she hadn’t even started getting ready! We ended up turning up for the wedding an hour and 45 minutes late! –basically we had just sat down and they were getting up to walk out. Seriously – no exaggeration! The Malawians are never in a hurry!

Anyway the kids all came back the next day and since then I have been doing games in the mornings, crafts in the afternoons and prayers with each house in the evening. As there are 7 houses I eat in a different house each evening, which helps me to get to know them better as well as meaning I don’t need to eat on my own. It is still school holiday which is why I haven’t been able to start teaching yet. – Although that was my greatest worry before coming here I actually now can’t wait. The kids all find it very funny to test my Chichewa – the local language- which is actually a good thing because it is forcing me to learn it and I can’t wait till I will be able to have proper conversations with them.

Anyway that’s about all for the now. My advice for anyone considering a gap year is- DO IT!!! And to anyone going on a gap year – I know my situation is slightly different due to the fact that I have been here before but get completely involved straight from the start. The kids love the attention and it’s the best feeling when you are walking along and you hear a bunch of kids shouting your name and you turn round in time to have them jump all over you. If you are considering touring