Beth, Malawi

First three months in my little village in Malawi


Bethany Fleming

I’m having an absolutely unbelievable time here in Namisu, Malawi! It has already been three months (to the day yesterday) and I can’t believe how time has flown. I was originally going to only come for three months but so SO glad I decided to go with the six!

We are just about to have our Easter break here and the other Lattitude volunteers and myself are travelling around the lake for a few days then heading over to Zambia to see the famous Victoria Falls! It’s all very exciting but me and Alicia (my UK GAP buddy) are a bit nervous/sad about leaving our little village for two weeks! We have grown so attached to some of the kids here…they are so gorgeous! Malawians tend to have this happiness and joy about them despite their situation that is truly inspiring.

Bethany Fleming

In Namisu at Aquaid (a boarding school for orphaned children) I am teaching Nursery level, standard ones and standard sevens (standard ones are my favourite! So cheeky, but so much fun!) And when we aren’t teaching at school, Aquaid Lifeline have also set up a disabled residence called the Dawn Centre that we help out at. It is incredibly rewarding, and again….these kids just never stop smiling!! Most of them aren’t toilet trained…a lot can’t talk… and most can’t walk, but just being around the children and playing with them makes all the difference to their days!

The food in Malawi was one thing that took a while to get used to…however we have done so and now, are surprisingly enjoying it! They eat Nsima, which for those who don’t know what is extremely hard to explain… but it’s sort of a doughy texture that you eat with your hands (rolling it around into a ball) and then have it with a relish (chicken, beans, fish, eggs etc). The first time we tried this was at our neighbour’s house and it was served up with pigeon as the relish.  Now I think pigeon is probably a delicacy here… however we had no idea of this at the time and I know I just panicked and tried to find the right words to explain that, where we are from pigeon is an extremely rare thing to eat! Anyway we didn’t want to be rude and tell her we weren’t up for eating it. So we sort of just ate the Nsima by itself (which I do NOT recommend on the first try). So not the best experience, however now me and Alicia are eating Nsmia at least four times a week probably with everything BUT pigeon… we even tried goat, it was yum! We go around to the different orphan houses here and eat with them most nights which is so much more fun than staying at home!

Bethany Fleming

The village is quite conservative (so no clothing above the knees, and no exposed shoulders). I was a bit worried about this at the beginning however have become quite attached to my long skirts now! Church is a lot of fun, with lots of singing and dancing (a lot like how you would picture an African talent quest!) and then the service follows that haha. We are slowly learning Chichewa (the unofficial national language)…but learning none the less! Think I’ll be saying phrases like Masuka Bwanji (‘Good morning how are you?’) even when I get home!

We still have about another three to four months here, but I’m already dreading saying goodbye! I’m so glad I was placed where I am, and I know when I get home it’s going to be extremely difficult (once I have the money saved) to NOT come back and visit everyone from Namisu!

Submitted by: Bethany Fleming