Laura, Malawi

Laura volunteered as a Teacher in Malawi on her gap year


Teaching was one of the reasons I had chosen Malawi. It is a challenge. You have classes of over 50 children and perhaps, 1 book. You speak English, they perhaps, don’t. Classrooms are dark. If you’re lucky you will have a chalk board. But! The children want to learn. There will be silence when you speak. They will do anything for you. Language becomes fluent through dancing and singing and play! Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself. To begin with, lessons resemble a game of charades. But you’ll get there!

There is challenges everyday. Of course, there are times when you miss home, some days more than others. I think for me, it was seeing or experiencing something truly amazing or beautiful and wishing you could share it with someone you love. Because no one will ever be able to understand the things you try so hard to explain. By the time you get home, it will only remain in your memories. Everyday is special. You will come to realise. You will give anything to go back and just sit on your porch and watch the world go by.

Life for many in Malawi is hard. For some, it is a battle everyday. You know, I guess, I became complacent because the people are always so happy and friendly. You forget that it’s strange that they do not have shoes or that they have a tree balanced on their head.

I learnt that one person can not change the world. We can try though. If you can make a person happy everyday that you are with them, you have done something amazing.

I fell in love. My children taught me so much!! I had definitely underestimated their capabilities. Of course I don’t have my own children, I am only 19. But I truly love those children with all of my heart. There is not a day that goes by when I am not thinking of them. It makes me sad that they do not know that. I’m not worried about them because they have such a beautiful life. I know they are happy. I would just love to hear them laughing once more.

We made a deal, me and my children. We decided we wouldn’t say goodbye or be sad. When the time came for them to go home we would just say “Tiwonana mowa” (See you tomorrow) just like we did every night.

I know I’ll go back! I’ll meet all of my friends again becauseMalawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, has my heart and always will. I think, wherever you go, the country will welcome you as long as you respect them and their culture.

Now I am at university studying to be a teacher. If it wasn’t for going to Malawi on my gap year, this would not have been possible. I thank Lattitude for giving me this amazing opportunity. I have made the best friends and from all over the world! I felt safe in the knowledge that if I did ever need help, someone was always close enough. I felt brave enough to explore because Lattitude gave me that chance to make my own decisions.