Volunteers’ Stories: Tara
“The website tugged at my heartstrings, and I knew this was what I wanted to do – it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!”
Time has flown by so quickly; I am so sad to be leaving RIPPLE after three months but know that I will never forget my time here. I am a secondary school teacher back home in England and, after a mini quarter-life ‘crisis’, decided to hand in my notice and take a year out to travel the world. I knew that I wanted to include some teaching within that year, and Malawi appealed greatly as my parents had lived in Blantyre back in the 1980s – they have always spoken so fondly of it, and I’ve grown up in a house filled with wooden carvings and masks from the warm heart of Africa. So when they told me about some friends of theirs whose son had come out with his school to RIPPLE, I was immediately interested. The website tugged at my heartstrings, and I knew this was what I wanted to do – it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
- Tara at Mwaya Pre-school
- Tara with the Standard 8 class at Mwaya Primary School
- Learners at the Mazembe Adult Literacy class
I could rabbit on for pages and pages about my experiences here (which have been incredible) but instead I will just choose some of the highlights:
- Having children running towards you on the paths, even at 5am, screaming with delight while yelling ‘mzungu!’; and joining me on my morning runs (making me feel like a professional athlete being cheered over the finish line).
- Squeals of delight at the pre-school whenever I brought out balloons or bubbles.
- Rounds of applause from children when being presented with a simple exercise book and pen.
- Being greeted by everyone you pass on your daily commute – lots of smiles, waves and hellos! If only every country was as friendly as Malawi…
- Dinner on the beach once a month to watch the red moon rise over the lake…
- … and 4.45am wake-ups to go for a swim with the sun rising over the lake.
- Geoff and Liz being the ultimate hosts ever – making more G&Ts than you can shake a stick at, and giving us port, chocolate, meat, stilton, and many other British delights that we were craving after 12 weeks away from supermarkets!
- Getting to know Pam and Claire from RIPPLE in the UK – such a lovely team; I am looking forward to reunions and table tennis at the Buckingham office!
- Fellow volunteers Linda and Caitlin at Nyika
- Linda, Caitlin, and Tara at Vwaza Marsh
- Trips to Nyika plateau, Vwaza Marsh, Nkhata Bay, Makuzi, Ngala, Kachere Castle, Kande Beach (and horse riding), Mount Kurwirwi, Likoma, Chizumulu and even South Luangwa in Zambia during time off – Malawi is such a stunning country and, although it’s sad that there aren’t many tourists here, that is part of its charm and appeal!
- The other amazing volunteers who I know I will miss dearly but will definitely meet up with again once we have completed all of our adventures – made some friends for life!
- The staff who are so talented (such yummy food – thanks chefs!) and always smiling and happy to see you. They really made Mwaya Beach feel like home. I will miss Fabiana (who is fab!) randomly bursting into a dance routine and trying to get a reluctant Geddess (the Goddess) and Martha (our Malawian Mother) to join him.
- Karaoke in the car – singing along to Queen at the top of our lungs, making up the lyrics to the verses that we didn’t know.
- Living in paradise for three months.
- Tara with Geddess and Fabiana, two of the Mwaya cooks
- Dinner at Barton’s house
- Dinner with Alamson’s family
Thank you to everyone I’ve met for making this such a wonderful experience – I will miss you all! Tawonga ukongwa and taluta!
Tara (September 2014 – November 2014)