The 2010 trip has been a success. The Malawians came to the UK, and we went to Malawi!
Here is an account of our experiences.
Hosting the Malawians and Activities
When the Malawians arrived in Poulner all our scouts going to Malawi greeted them with a big banner saying welcome in their language. They all got off the bus smiling but quite wary, as they were not sure what to expect. After a welcome lunch at two host families houses we all went back to our own homes accompanied by the Malawi scouts if you were hosting one. I hosted a boy called Sampson from the scouts and I think I can speak for other host families that the Malawi scouts were very quiet for the first few days however that changed very quickly as we had a busy programme ready for them over the next few weeks.
The next day we accompanied the scouts into Ringwood secondary school and with the help of some keen members of the school we gave them a tour of the school and they were bewildered at how many buildings we had and the fact that each subject had its own building was just amazing to them. When we got home after the day at school Sampson (The scout I hosted) asked me lots of questions about what our school was like and that made it much easier for me to talk to him and I think he felt a bit more at home that way which was much more useful as he became much more confident at home as the days went by.
One thing I found with my guest Sampson was that he would get up very early in the morning at about 6:30 and start cleaning our kitchen, sweeping the backyard and doing the hovering, all these chores we tried stopping him but he always refused probably because it was his way of saying thank you and I have to admit it was good getting out of doing chores for a while. Another trip was when we took the Malawians to Mudeford quays and we went crabbing for a while which they thought was really funny as we were catching them for fun not eating. We then caught the ferry across to Hengistbury head where we walked round on the beach and on top of the hill to tell them its historical value. It was good to show them the beach in England as the beach by Lake Malawi is quite different. For them to be in the saltwater of the sea was brilliant as Malawi is in central Africa far away from any saltwater sea.
We were very lucky in the fact that we were invited down to Ferny Crofts head of scouting in Hampshire to enjoy a free activities day including a ropes course. Of course when we told the Malawi scouts what we were doing they had no clue what it was but when we went to the area with the ropes course challenges they were all shocked and really excited. Throughout the day they really enjoyed themselves as we also did some team building exercises, which they found very funny, as they like to talk in Chichewa really fast, so then when we talk to them in English (which they can understand) really fast to help they just burst out laughing and we would have to try again. When we got back from the day out they were all really tired but had said they had a great afternoon, which was good. When Sampson and I got home we had a usual dinner but he was telling me that they don’t have such a variety of dinners back home, they usually have the same meal 4-5 times a week so he really enjoyed the food in England and I think that goes for all the other Malawi scouts as well.
As a host family we did get some days to spend with our guests from Malawi and we all did different things, for instance our family took Sampson to see toy story 3D and he said he had never imagined anything like it so that was a good feeling taking him there, and later we found out lots of family’s had done the same with their scouts. All in all we packed as many activities in their programme so they would not get bored and there times at home we think they enjoyed as much as we did because we kept trying to show them the best things to see which brings me to our final trip to the capital London.
All the Malawi scouts showed a lot of enthusiasm especially when we got on the London underground on which they had never been on a train or underground. As a group we had lots of parents and families come along which made the day a lot more fun as we did all the usual tourist things you can do in London for example going to the London eye, visiting the houses of parliament. The biggest city, which is closest to them in Malawi, is Mzuzu that is not very big and is roughly the same size if not a bit smaller than Christchurch but with all one maybe two story buildings. But walking around London they were shocked at how very busy it was and how big the streets and buildings were in comparison and all the time we were shocking them with facts about how much an apartment costs in Kwacha (Malawian Currency). At the end of the day we were exhausted as we had walked all over London and when we got back Sampson went straight to bed, as did most of the others in their homes.
Saying farewells was always going to be harder for the parents as we knew we were going to see the scouts in a few weeks time, but in the end there were a few tears from mums which was bound to happen as they left us for the airport. During their stay in England our scout leader Colin Andrews put in so much effort into planning and organising all of it that I think it is fair to say we showed them the very best parts of England and in showing them our culture history and way of life I think it was a very successful endeavour in having them experience our country.~Isaac
2010 summer camp was the biggest camp 1st Poulner scout group have ever done. This and having our special guests from overseas made this a great camp. In this camp we had our own areas with our own teams to compete against the other teams. As well as the Poulner scouts using their skills they had learnt from previous camps, the Bandarwi scout brought some skills from the scouting experiences. Then at the end of each day every scout on camp would sit around the camp fire and the two scout groups would share songs. On the last day of camp our separate group competed against each other in camp Olympics activity including throwing arrows, ropes course over the river, catapults and campfire cooking. Then later that night after dinner we all performed our sketch to the Mazuzu scouts and sang songs.~Arron
Malawians On Summer Camp
Every year everyone from the age of cubs and older in our scout group has the opportunity to come on a weeklong camp together, and usually most people do. So it’s the last week of the Malawians stay in The UK and that’s where we took them. This year about 80 of us came up to Honiton (Devon) on the Saturday.
One of the first things they did there was help us dam up the river, which is something we do whenever we camp so we have a small reservoir to swim in, and I believe they enjoyed it even though the river was much colder than Lake Malawi, where they’re used to.
And we left the campsite a few times in the week as well, like to an ice cream farm and to take the train to the sea side, all three of which are things they don’t have much in Malawi. On camp though we discovered that they really like hot chocolate and would gulp it down by the camp fire, also loved were crisps and apples.
All in all it was just a generally fun week enjoyed by all that went.~Alex
What Activity We Did Jointly in UK
The activities included 1st aid, navigation, pioneering and desk building. We were being tort to teach these activities as well as learning our selves. For first aid the 1st Poulner scouts had a good idea of what to do in most emergencies but in Malawi it can be a different way of doing it. So we got in groups and asked the Malawians what they would do in different emergences. Together we thought of the best way to tackle the problem then how we would teach this the other scouts back in Malawi. One of the other activities was navigation this was a hard one to teach because most people in Malawi have never picked up a compass. So for this Colin would explain the compass, bearings and pacing and we would talk one on one with the scouts to help them understand. Colin pointed out some of the skills that he used to teach and then we would have ago this prepared us for Malawi. The next activity (my favourite) was pioneering for this we were instructed to make a catapult. We did this teaching the Malawians the knots we use while doing it including lashing and frapping. When it came to firing one of the smaller poles couldn’t take the force and snapped in two but the knots remand. The final and one of the main points of the trip was the desk building most of us knew how to saw drill and measure but all of us were new to the design but in a day with the help of the Mazuzu scouts we made 9 desks for scouting and leant the desk design.~Arron
Arriving in Malawi, one of the first things we noticed was that everyone was pleased to see us, even the security guards smiled at us; not something that you would expect in England. There was fruit everywhere in Malawi! Whether it was bananas growing on the palms or people selling tomatoes on road side stalls; fruit was everywhere, and it was delicious! Something I found quite strange was there are very few tarmac roads in Malawi, in fact there are so few you could probably count them on your fingers of both hands. Because there are few proper footpaths everyone uses the roads to walk along. When we stopped to fill up the minibus with fuel hoards of venders came up to the bus to sell their produce to us. Some had nuts, some had fruits, but there were also many small children with trays on their heads carrying bubble gum and boiled sweets. We bought a couple of sweets, but they charged extortionate prices because we are white people and they knew we wouldn’t haggle. Travelling through huge mountain ranges and across barren and dusty landscapes was spectacular and unexpected. The climate in Muzuzu was quite a shock, because of the altitude; the temperature at night was cold and similar to English weather during the daytime.~Callum
Our Time Spent At Kavuzi Camp Site
The deep forests that surround Kavuzi camp are lush and undisturbed. The camp is about 10km out of Muzuzu on the Nkata Bay road. It is set in a V-shaped valley which has very steep sides and at the bottom there is a full flowing river, perfect for swimming and washing. We spent nearly 2 weeks at the camp site and except the day of torrential rain, we had wall-to-wall sun! We worked on many projects whilst at the camp such as installing working plumbing and showers and drawing plans for the new scout hall, as well as schemes for the community like levelling a playing field for sports and making a zig-zag access ramp that snaked up the hillside. Camping at Kavuzi was very hard work, as every evening we had to ascend the steps to our camping platform which was half way up the hill; however it was worth it as we had a spectacular view of the surrounding forest and farm land. The hardest part of camping was doing the food preparation and cooking before nightfall, which was at 6. It was a constant battle which we frequently lost to cook in natural light. All in all though, Kavuzi camp site is a fantastic site for scouting, even though there are many jobs still to done!~Callum
Whilst we were camping we had visits from the Banadawe, Muzuzu and Nkata Bay scout groups. We camped together for a couple of nights and did group activities such as orienteering and map skills, camp hygiene and general work around the camp as well as evening camp fires and drama! The Malawi scouts had never done exploring before so when we went on walks, we all stepped into the unknown and relied upon our trusty compasses. One of the main tasks we undertook was the planting of trees and bushes around the campsite which will hopefully prove ‘fruitful’ in the coming years. Arguably the most enjoyable pursuit at camp was the construction of the dam which was quite an engineering feat. It spanned the width of the river, was about 6ft high and was made from bamboo and two tarpaulins. We made two attempts, however both failed at stopping the water completely but the latter dammed enough water to swim in. There was plenty to keep us occupied because whilst we achieved a lot, there is still a lot of work to be done before we could invite paying members of the public.~Callum
Camping at Sambani lodge was fantastic. For a start our tents were pitched in paradise – The lodge is a wonderful place, metres away from a white, sandy beach and the clean, clear waters of Lake Malawi. We arrived there on the afternoon of August 20th, and stayed for a week before returning to England. Camping was made a lot easier than the first two weeks we spent at Kavusi because we had meals cooked for us every day, instead of having to cook them ourselves. Every morning at six o’clock we would wake up, run down the beach and have a swim in the warm, inviting lake. The water was always perfectly clear, and because it’s not salty, you can open your eyes and look around. After we swam and ate breakfast, we would go and do our activity for the day (which was usually desk building, a few kilometres away at Bandawe Primary School). We normally arrived back at Sambani mid-afternoon, and swam again or lazed around reading a book or something. Over all, camping at Sambani was amazing, and much easier than camping at Kavusi, and everyone enjoyed it.~Tim
Trip to Mzuzu
At one point during our stay at Kavuzi campsite, we decided we would spend the day in Mzuzu with the local scouts. Colin, Lindsay and Tony had to go to a meeting to help set up the Trustee Committee for Kavuzi, and so we had to make our own way there and back. So we started walking down the road in the hope of flagging down a lift. After a couple of miles, we eventually got a lift in the back of a pick-up, and reached Mzuzu for the grand price of K100, or about 40p.
We split up at this point, going to different places for lunch. We then visited the houses of the local scouts, which was very interesting and really opened our eyes to the differences between our cultures. Most were roofed which corrugated iron, and were very small, most with only 3 or 4 rooms. Some families had to share beds or sleep on sofas due to lack of space. However, many houses did have power, and some also had some luxuries such as a small television.
After visiting the houses, we met back up and visited the market, which was nothing like anything we had seen before. It was a sea of shacks with iron roofs, stretching for more than a mile. Inside, it was split into rough districts, for example the clothes market and the timber market. People were everywhere, browsing the shops and haggling the price down. After a while, we headed back to the bus rank, where we waited for a lift, which eventually came in the shape of a Nissan Highlander. After the driver assured us that 20 more in the back would be “fine” we set off, at about 10mph. This increased when he went into neutral downhill. After the hairy ride back to Kavuzi, we paid the driver K100 each, and went down to relax at the campsite.~James
Around the time of the trip into Mzuzu, we also went on a two-day trip to Vwasa Wildlife Reserve. We would do two safaris, one in the afternoon, and one in the early morning, and camp overnight. After packing, we drove for three hours down progressively worse roads, ending up on a bumpy dirt track. We set up camp in the reserve, then met our two guides, Alfred and Godwin. We headed off into the reserve at about 3:30, and after minutes saw a group of hippos! The fantastic animals didn't stop there, we saw other interesting sights like ibis, giant termite mounds, hyena tracks and more. We then headed back to the camp and made dinner, had a campfire and went to sleep. During the night, those who were awake heard hyena laughs very near the camp, as well as the almost deafening sound of crickets.
We woke up at 5 in the morning and had a quick breakfast before heading off again with Alfred and Godwin. This time around we saw even more wildlife, in the forms of baboons, crocodiles, various relatives of the deer (such as impala Kudu and bush buck).After the safari, we realised that we still hadn't seen any elephants, and so we decided to wait until around midday, when they would go down to the lake to drink. Since we had had a very early start, many of us decided to take a quick nap.
We packed the equipment away, then all got into the minibus and drove off down the narrow roads in search of elephants. And after about 10 minutes, we found them.
We then decided we may as well see if we could find some buffalo, so we drove for an hour around the park. Although we did not actually find buffalo, we did see buffalo droppings, hippos very close up, as well as a lot more baboons, impala, bush buck, and Kudu. We then drove back to the main gates, and almost lost the bus when going through a dry river-bed. If it wasn't for the skillful driving of Hussein (our driver), the bus would have had a lot more damage than a flattened exhaust pipe. It was then back along the awful roads on the 3 hour journey to Kavuzi.~James
stuff we did with the Malawi scouts
- jamboree at camp
- map work
- desk building
one of the best days in my opinion was the day in Mzuzu Colin told us to pair up with a 2nd Mzuzu scout and we when into town on Malawi public transport which a tale on it own. upon arriving we all when to get something to eat most of us split up at this point me and the Mzuzu scout i was with who was called gift when with Craig and Jared to a local place where the Mzuzu scouts had chicken and chips for the first time, then me and gift when round the market looking for a hat then we when by bike taxi (which are awesome) to gift’s house which was impossible to despise properly because it looked like a shanty from the out side but inside it was filled with painting and all manor of furniture at three generations of people that where around and wanted to say hi which was loads. then we when to the town museum which explained about where the people of Malawi originate we then met up with the others and got a pick up back to camp. and that was just one of the days with the Malawi scouts.~Sid
On the day we moved from Kavusi Camp to Sambani Lodge, we took a small detour in our bus, and made a bush bashing scramble down to a waterfall. All of us (and the girl guides we had with us at the time) thought it was stunning. We swam in the water, climbed on the rocks, took photos and did all manner of things for at least two or three hours. After we had finished, we went to see the owner of the waterfall – friends of Colin and Lindsay – Lewis and Catherine Chinula. They owned a big chunk of land, which included the waterfall.
When we went up to see them, Luis showed us all the things he had invented and made. It was incredible! He had even designed and made a hydro-electric generator that powered his whole house all year round. He had also made a manual cement mixer, a petrol powered lawnmower, a water pump exercise machine, among countless other things. After Colin finished his cup of tea, we packed up our things and were off again, in the direction of Sambani Lodge.~Tim
people sitting on the runway eating lunch and after that nothing was really surprising everything was not nearly as surprising as it could have been because i was expecting to see things like livestock roaming free. how ever it to a while to get used to people riding around in the back of trucks and people carrying massive amounts on there head as the go from day to day. the other surprise is that in England you don’t tend to start talking with random people but in Malawi you will just be walking around a people are all so talkative and happy i don’t know if it had anything to be with being white but we got back to the UK and found it really odd walking down the street with nobody coming up to you and talking.~Sid
Funny Things That Happened
When we weren’t working or preparing and eating our food we did have fun. We learned that insect repellent when poured over a rock and then set fire to, burned a real pretty blue!
We soon found out that where you pitch is really important. We found out that we were on a Hippo Highway when one night we heard them all stomp off past our tent on their way to the river.
As always the camp fire sing a longs are funny and part of scouting life. Bohemian Rhapsody was worthy of note, as were the efforts for Fashion Friday, in our suit jackets. Very fetching it was too with many a scout realising their true potential to join Elle MacPherson in her quest for Britain’s next top model!
Colin woke us up every morning with several delightful versions of many a song, but I particularly loved “Morning has Broken”. That classic Rolf Harris number, “Sun rise in da morning” (at 6am).~Ben
My first visit to an African country was to Egypt. It was very dry and very brown and in April very windy, so it was huge surprise that when we arrived in Malawi we were greeted by greenness. When we got to the camp sight, I felt as if I could have been anywhere in the New Forest. There was a real similarity to home!
Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised but the transport system was mental. We are used to having order, with right of ways, cars in real working order and a feeling of safety. But not in Malawi! I’m very grateful to the local knowledge of our driver.
The cold showers were a bit of a surprise. But at least they got rid of the dirt!
A lovely and beautiful surprise was the fact that we could see very clearly ALL the stars and a once in a life time sight Mars next to the Moon. I feel very privileged to have seen this.
The wild life was fantastic. The amount of beautiful butterflies and amazing wild life was breath taking. We got so near to the elephants and the hippos, it was awesome.~Ben
What I have learned
I always knew that my trip to Malawi would be a fantastic adventure. I prepared myself for the differences I thought there would be, the weather, the noise, the smells, the amount of people, the heat, the food, the buildings and just a general different way of doing things. What I learned was that although there were differences there were many more similarities. It rained! It was hot but it was bearable. The food was satisfying and nutritious except for nsima. There were a lot of people but they were kind, warm and friendly and generous with the little they had. I have learned to appreciate my friends, my family and my education and the privileged life that I have. Importantly material things although lovely are not a necessity and I will be more aware of things that I really need rather than want.~Ben