Volunteers’ Stories: Katie and Clare
Katie’s and Clare’s Story
“The whole experience has been so wonderful, and we really enjoyed every minute of our time. … We will never forget our time there and hope to return to Malawi some time in the very near future.”
The nerves of arriving at Mwaya Beach on that first day quickly disappeared; everyone we met was so kind and welcoming! We were met by Dan and Grace at the roadblock and then shown around by some of the other volunteers as soon as we arrived at Mwaya Beach.
After two days of induction with Dan, we were ready to get stuck in. As we knew we would only be here for a month, we wanted to establish our schedules very early on. We saw and learned so much on those first two days and felt that we really understood the work that RIPPLE Africa do, as well as the huge impact the organisation makes on thousands of people in the area. We visited schools (Pre-schools, Primary Schools, and a Secondary School), the local health clinic, the tree nursery, and learned how to build the famous Changu Changu Motos!
After some thought, we decided our time would be best spent taking small groups out of the older primary school classes to read with them. Because of the large classes in the schools here, children do not get as much individual attention as they need. We decided to spend Mondays and Wednesdays in Mwaya Primary School and Tuesdays and Thursdays in Chiomba Primary School. In both of these schools, we each took separate groups of five to 10 children from Standards 5, 6, 7 and 8. We read stories to them and had them read for us as well. Even in the few short weeks we spent with these children, we have seen improvements in their reading abilities. This just goes to show how effective group teaching can be. Unfortunately, this is something that, due to the large class sizes, the teachers here simply cannot engage in very often.
We decided to spend Friday mornings in Mwaya Pre-school, something which we really looked forward to each week! The children there are so enthusiastic and eager to learn and were an absolute pleasure to be around. We taught them some songs, helped out with lessons, and introduced some new English words (we taught the colours in English by using balloons we had brought from home which of course was very exciting for the children!).
In the afternoons, we each tutored a couple of secondary students from Kapanda in English, maths and history and established an English conversation group on Friday afternoons. We used some of our free afternoons to visit other projects and schools, like the Bandawe School for the Hearing Impaired. We also filled in for other volunteers with some of their projects, such as the after-school reading club at Mwaya Primary School on Wednesdays.
The whole experience has been so wonderful, and we really enjoyed every minute of our time. We learned so much from the local people, the staff at Mwaya, the children we taught, and from fellow volunteers. We will never forget our time there and hope to return to Malawi some time in the very near future.
Katie and Clare (Volunteers, October – November 2012)