On Thursday, Group 1 – Derek, Kathleen, Carol, Niall, Laura, Lynn, Kiera and Gerry – had impressed the staff at Mkwate Madulira Under-Six Centre so much that they were asked to do additional educational stencilling! This will provide the Centre with two separate learning areas – inside and outside – and have a greater chance of including all 150 pupils in valuable lessons.
Meanwhile, Group 2 – Erin, Mark, Stevie, Sean, Mairi, Rachel, Dannika and John – had a chance meeting with Mary’s Meals Founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, as he visited the Area 5 Under-Six Centre they were putting the finishing touches to. Magnus thanked both groups for their selfless support and the difference they are making in Malawi. It was an emotional experience for the volunteers as they witnessed first hand the outpouring of love and gratitude for Mary’s Meals and the vital role they are playing in challenging hunger and poverty.
At the end of the day, the group bid an emotional farewell to the staff and children, leaving numerous gifts, toys and lots of love behind.
Friday saw Group 1 return to Mkwate Madulira for the final time to complete the additional educational artwork on the area outside the classroom. As with their fellow volunteers, a few creatives have definitely been uncovered, much to their own surprise! Again, it was tough to say goodbye to the children with whom bonds had already been formed but there was most definitely comfort in the fact their efforts would improve the educational experience for the children for many years to come.
Having finished Area 5 a day earlier than anticipated, Group 2 made a flying visit to St Mary’s Chemusa Under-Six Centre to create ‘talking walls’ in the space of a few hours. They achieved a remarkable amount in such a short space of time and the impact on the children will be significant.
One of the most special things to witness about this group of individuals with a common social conscience is their interaction with the children. Covered in paint splashes from head to toe they always find time to play a variety of games with those who matter most. Frisbees, hoola hoops, skipping ropes, stickers, rounders and cricket sets, educational parachutes and just plain old fashioned games like ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ are a daily occurrence. It’s also a bit surreal to hear hundreds of Malawian children singing songs familiar in grounds across Scotland, with chants of ‘Glasgow’s Green and White’ along with ‘Kieran Tierney’!
Saturday was the only day off for the volunteers so they visited Majete National Park to experience another side of Africa on a game drive and boat safari. It was a great day all round with the groups trading stories of being chased by an elephant and a face off with a crocodile.
Then it was back to work on Sunday as both groups were introduced to their new Under-Six Centres – Group 1 at Chembona and Group 2 at Kantukule. Both Centres are much more rural and provide an insight into the additional challenges faced by the local communities around access. Most of the preparatory work was completed so that the focus over the next two days will be on completing the ‘talking walls’.
A final Mary’s Meals project will be confirmed for Wednesday before the volunteers depart for home on Thursday.
Laughter rings out from our temporary home at Kabula Lodge every night as the volunteers share their stories and a million memories are made. Volunteer and Supporters’ Committee Chairman, Mark Cameron (who knew he was a hoola hoop champion 😄) also introduced a nightly ‘favourite moment of the day’ around the table question which has led to a wonderful range of hilarious, heartwarming, touching and emotional comments.
As the group now approach their final few days in the Warm Heart of Africa, they continue to make an impact on the lives of the children and staff of their designated Centres, on behalf of the Celtic Family.
Thank you for all the support you have given them so far and there’s still time to get behind their efforts here –