In May 2015 I went on a three week trip to Malawi with the Trust. John (Challis, the trust director) describes these kind of visits as ‘Challis’s Dodgy Tours’ however there was nothing dodgy about this tour.
A trip like this is largely what you make of it, and what you observe during it. I was never allowed to call my trip a ‘holiday’ and personally I would rate it more as ‘work experience’ or maybe life experience. I was privileged to visit three hospitals, one health centre, eight schools, four higher education institutions, four wells and was driven then walked a hill to 4700 feet to look at two water tanks. John was fitter going up the hill than I was!
I attended two churches and four church services – three of them in one day (English, Tumbuka and Pentecostal in Tumbuka). I sat by the shores of Lake Malawi for a little while, played tag and football (using rolled up plastic bags) with school children and learned that clothes need to be ironed for health reasons – and not just to make clothes look good!
I learned more than I expected and less than I wanted to – there is always more to learn and in the eighteen days I was in the country I only started to gain an insight into the local cultures. Malawi, it seems to me, is a country undergoing a fast transition, moving between the old and the modern, and perhaps trying to accommodate both. The work that the Trust is doing, and the people they are working with (both in and outside of Malawi), looks to help the people of Malawi in a positive way.
As I sit in my home in Scotland I find it hard to believe I was there, but my photos tell me I that I was there. Thank you John and the Raven Trust for experiences that will stay with me for a long time.