Saturday, June 26, 2010

Revealing Another Layer of Malawi

Revealing another significant piece to our Malawian puzzle, we traveled a long, treacherous road to Mvuu (hippopotamus) Camp. The adventure to Mvuu Camp left us thinking we would be staying in a traditional Malawian village. Much to our surprise, we arrived at a dock where two boats were waiting to take us across a river to the island where we would be staying the next two days. The breathtaking view and lodging left us in awe. We quickly ate a delicious lunch and headed to the first of four safaris.

We could feel the anticipation of everyone’s energy as we jumped into our safari Land Rover and took off into the bush (jungle). As any authentic safari, we were not guaranteed to see all the animals that the park had to offer. The previous schemas many of us had were that of the animals from television and movies. The scenery was so vivid, many of us had to constantly remind ourselves that it was not a backdrop from a movie. We were told that the likelihood of seeing an elephant was slim. As we proceeded to go off-roading, we spotted an elephant eating from a tree. The safari guide inched closer and we swiftly pulled out our cameras to capture the priceless moment. Luckily, Carrie Harvey, with her adventurous spirit, was able to capture what was to come. Our presence began to make the elephant feel uneasy. Loud stomping, flapping of the ears, and outrageous noises were clues to his foul mood. Our excited but frightened reactions were followed by the safari guide’s laughter. After the close call, we were fortunate enough to encounter unfamiliar animals such as impalas, kudu, warthogs, water bucks, hippos, crocodiles, and several species of birds. For some, the experience was an opportunity of a lifetime, and others were able to face their fear of the wild.

Upon departure from Mvuu Camp, we boated to the mainland where bikes were awaiting us for our next journey. The original plan was to use Malawian bike taxis, which are simple bicycles where the passengers sit directly behind the cyclist. Unbeknownst to us, we accessed our flexibility once again and changed our plans at the last minute. Therefore, we had the opportunity to ride the bikes ourselves. We traveled about 2 km to a cultural village. As we rode down the winding dirt path, the local villagers greeted us with smiles, high-fives, and thumbs-up. Approaching the village, they guided us to an enlightening presentation of their village customs. It was interesting to learn how they accommodate overnight visitors and experience their lifestyle. We were privileged enough to take a tour around their community. We were captivated by their medicine man, local grocery store, soccer field, and homes.

Contrary to our preconceived notions, the houses they lived in had more than one room designated to serve a different purpose including a bedroom, storage room, food storage, and sitting room. Their pride was evident as we were introduced to their customs. After the tour we were embraced with song, dance, and various activities.

Through all of the experiences we have been able to take advantage the layers present in the Malawian way of life. While our major focus was working in the orphanage, we have also spent time investigating and understanding the Malawian health care, school systems outside of the orphanage, nature, markets, and the daily life in traditional villages. It is important to be exposed to these dimensions to better grasp the culture just as these aspects would be vital to understanding each child in the classroom.


  1. Unbelievable . . . . what an awesome opportunity!!

  2. You all are blessed! There is no way you can come away from there (Malawi) the same way you went seems impossible.

    Reba Ervin