Volunteers’ Stories: Alyson

Kapanda Secondary School RIPPLE Africa

Alyson’s Story

“I would more than happily return to Mwaya Beach in order to work alongside the fantastic staff, experience the beautiful and warm people, and experience more stunning sunrises. I am forever grateful for the opportunity RIPPLE Africa provided me and I only hope to one day return!”

A friend of mine introduced me to RIPPLE Africa earlier this year. While I was unsure if it would be a good fit as I am not a medical, environmental, or educational professional, it turned out to be an amazing experience. I am so thankful for the chance to have come to work with RIPPLE Africa. My time was spent working at the Under 5 and malnutrition clinics and conducting research on various projects. All of which have provided me the chance to prepare for graduate school this fall.

This was not my first time in Malawi, but it was my first time in this region and I could not get over the beauty. Mwaya Beach offered amazing views of gorgeous Lake Malawi with the surrounding of lush hills.

Research first took me to interview community members and chiefs of a few forest conservation projects. Did you know that trees are essential for rainfall and fires are set in order to smoke out mice so they can be caught and eaten? The facts were not the only interesting part, but the heights and intensely vertical incline of the hills we hiked were amazing!

I then ventured into fishing villages where I interviewed chiefs, community members, and fishermen. Having the opportunity to learn about fish conservation and the ways in which it has positively impacted the community was motivating. It was encouraging to see the impact that has been made through RIPPLE’s dedicated work in the local communities. Both projects are making big strides due to RIPPLE Africa’s approach and interest to empower the local community.

  • Forest ConservationForest Conservation
  • fish conservationFish Conservation
  • Happy with the Changu Changu MotoHappy with the Changu Changu Moto

My time spent at the local clinics was also very eye opening as I had the chance to understand not only about mother and child, but also what everyone living in the villages experience if they are ill. I had my trusty translator and friend Esther with me during most of my time at the clinics. She was always more than willing to explain anything I did not understand. She is a beautiful person inside and out and I am extremely grateful for her friendship and the way she always looked out for me.

Malaria testing never seemed to end and neither did the line of patients coming in for all different reasons. I was astounding to learn that women typically walk to the clinic in the last month of their pregnancy, which could be miles away from their homes, in order to sit at the clinic and wait to give birth. Those women were so strong, not only to walk such far distances, but anytime they were examined they always had a straight face, nothing made them grimace. Even when the midwife would poke and prod, these pregnant women would show no form of discomfort.

I happily helped with simple tasks at the prenatal and family planning days; taking and documenting blood pressure, weight, birth control methods, and scheduling follow ups. These clinics only have one or maybe two, if lucky, trained medical professionals. There are countless volunteers from the local communities which come on rotation to help out. These individuals are typically chosen by their village chief after they see what hard workers they are within their own community. Although they are not paid for their work, it is really an honor to be chosen.

The children were absolutely adorable at the Under 5 and malnutrition clinics. Even though it was difficult to see some of these moms and babies very malnourished, it was very encouraging that these clinics were there to support them via food distribution and education. The best part, aside from holding or playing with the children, was right before food distribution at Kachere clinic as the volunteers would lead a session of song and dance which reminded the moms of the importance of feeding their children nutritious food and practicing a healthy lifestyle. It was a time to laugh, sing, clap, and dance which brought welcomed smiles to all.

  • Changu Changu MotoChangu Changu Moto in use
  • Under 5 ClinicUnder 5 Clinic
  • Kapanda Secondary SchoolKapanda Secondary School

After spending six months in central Malawi last year, I wanted to see more of the country this time around. The funny thing was that Mwaya Beach was just too beautiful and full of fun to leave. A couple trips up to Mzuzu and one very adventurous trip to Vwaza Marsh were more than enough time away from the gorgeous beach we were so blessed to live on. Plus the delicious food that our amazing cook staff provided could not be beat! Although I do not miss cycling in soft sand or sleeping under a mosquito net, I would more than happily return to Mwaya Beach in order to work alongside the fantastic staff, experience the beautiful and warm people, and experience more stunning sunrises. I am forever grateful for the opportunity RIPPLE Africa provided me and I only hope to one day return!

Alyson (May 2016 – June 2016)

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