World Challenge 2018 -A trip of a lifetime to Malawi, Africa
World Challenge 2018 – A trip of a lifetime to Malawi, Africa
Malawi is said to be the warm heart of Africa; and it truly is. Two years ago, a journey began for me and 7 other students – we were told we had the opportunity to go to Malawi on a World Challenge expedition.
We had a tough 2 years ahead of fundraising £4000 each for a 3 week adventure (without getting any money from our parents). This cost seems a lot but covers so much and gives you a true sense of ownership and pride. World Challenge allows students to explore a country in a safe way whilst letting us make it our own expedition by planning, budgeting, phoning for transport, organising food and loads more. We got on our 10 hour flight to Johannesburg from Heathrow overnight on the 25th July 2018 – and then made our way to Lilongwe (the Malawi capital city) on a 2 hour flight.
Our first phase was the trek, climbing a peak in the Mulanje mountain range reaching 2684m! It took 4 long days of 7-9 hours walking to climb up, walk along the ridge and back down again. The views were so beautiful and all of the pain washed away as we reached the summit. This was the first mountain I had ever climbed and it has inspired me to climb more – it made me realise my physical and mental strength and our team grew so much closer with only 6 days into the expedition.
The next phase was the project. The idea of this is to help a local community in the country you are visiting. Vandyke have a personal link to an orphanage called ‘Smile Malawi’, raising money every year for them. As soon as we arrived, all of the children were hugging us and holding our hands. We felt so welcome in their family and community – we were there for 7 days and it felt like our home. Our project was to help Machemba School (a local primary school). With 2400 students and 40 teachers, the facilities are limited. We installed a floor in a newly built classroom, so it could be used and created water run-offs to protect the building. Then we used our budget to buy the students books, books for the teachers, chalk, pens, blackboard paint, footballs and a netball – with donations of football kits. The thing that struck me was that they have so little in comparison to us, and yet they are so happy with what they have. Leaving the orphanage was emotionally the most difficult part of the expedition; so much so that I plan to go back in 2020 to see them all again.
The last phase was rest and relaxation- after almost 3 weeks of waking up at 6 in the morning and having extremely busy days, we finally could relax! We went to Liwonde National Park on a Safari – seeing animals in their natural habitat, it was mesmerising. A herd of elephants came down to drink from the lake, we got so close to them! Our last part of relaxation was going to “Monkey Bay”, an idyllic beach with the sun and the lake. It was so nice to relax and reflect on our travels.
Malawi is such a different country, it gave me a true insight into another culture and it was a different kind of beauty. World Challenge has now inspired me to want to work for organisations that help poverty-stricken countries, as all of us have the power to change lives, even a small group of students from Vandyke.
World Challenge is by far my biggest achievement and it has genuinely changed my perspective and (as clichéd as this sounds), it has truly changed my life.
Year 13 student