Millie, Malawi

Millie volunteered as a teacher in MALAWI

Malawi may be a few thousand miles away by plane. But now it feels an impossibility away. I miss my friends, my students, my Malawian family, my tumbuka tribe, my orphans, my football team mates, my fellow teachers, my favourite stall tenders in the market, my congregation at Katawa CCAP church, my trouble makers, my second life – my Malawi.

On school days our house became something of a before and after school club for the kids who arrived early and left late. We would have quick reminder sessions for them before class or a banana and a friendly chat depending on what mood we and the students were in. Waking at 6am is something I would never have even considered doing before but as the Malawians soon taught me, these are the best hours for chores when the sun is low in the sky, the children are mostly sleeping and the water is most often running!

Before I left for lessons we would have two very special visits. Susgo an 8 year old teacher’s nephew who spent a lot of time with us would come by and swap his poorly fitting, polished, black school shoes for a pair of our spare black trainers. He was so scared of his smart shoes being lost or stolen that he never had the chance to wear them. The second visit would be from my Malawian baby brother – three year old Lwiyisho. For the first few weeks he would knock on the door and wait for me to give him a morning hug and have a quick chat before he trotted off to nursery but as the weeks drew on he became a lot more comfortable and would simply let himself into the house and wait for me on one of the living room chairs.

He was a diligent, quiet, motivated, pleasant and friendly member of the class. He sat beside a wonderful boy, Gilbert, who had been sponsored to attend the school. Gilbert couldn’t speak English, he couldn’t write English, he couldn’t follow any sort of conversation and sometimes I wondered whether he was even awake in my lessons!

We also had some fantastic trips away from the campus. We visited almost every town/village in North Malawi and made friends everywhere we went because Malawians are just so welcoming!

I am going to end this by writing something down I would never say aloud. As pretentious and clichéd as it may sound Malawi made me understand myself. It didn’t change me but it made me aware of my flaws and of my talents, it made me question my motives and my past decisions, it made me put my life in perspective and most importantly it restored my faith in humanity.