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The Malawi Volunteer Program
2007 marks World Camp’s seventh year of HIV/AIDS prevention work in Malawi. This successful volunteer program provides an unforgettable experience for all who participate. The Malawi Program is our senior volunteer abroad program, and serves as a model for other World Camp programs.
In the past years, World Camp has worked with over 30,000 children in 150 rural schools and street shelters in Malawi. This accomplishment is the result of a unique volunteer program that allows individuals to make a significant impact by teaching children and teachers over the course of three day educational camps in rural primary schools.
Volunteers teach HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, and gender equality, as well as lead students and teachers in team building songs and games in a summer camp atmosphere. The program is well rounded to include additional community outreach including teacher workshops, projects in refugee camps and work with homeless children living on the streets of Lilongwe.
A Volunteer Day in Malawi
The program is based in the capital city Lilongwe. World Camp volunteers live in a centrally located house on the new side of “Old Town,” Lilongwe. The World Camp house is a base for volunteers to return to each evening after long hours of travel and teaching in the African bush. The house is a comfortable haven, complete with six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and large kitchen and living areas. There are also recreation areas complete with ping pong, a reading room and swimming pool. The World Camp house is secure, surrounded by high fences and guarded by security personnel 24 hours a day.
A typical day at World Camp Malawi begins as early as five am, to allow volunteers time to eat breakfast and prepare for the day’s travel. Travel time typically averages two hours each way, depending on distances to scheduled schools and current road conditions. World Camp vehicles are kept in good repair and only trusted to safe and experienced drivers. As visitors to rural Malawian villages are infrequent, volunteers can expect to be greeted by up to hundreds of excited school children who often run alongside the approaching vehicles, shouting to welcome the Azungu, the foreign volunteers.
World Camp volunteers take specific roles at each camp. Two to three volunteers work with school officials, teachers and
villagers to facilitate the overall program. An additional two volunteers are assigned to conduct a teacher workshop at the school encouraging the World Camp mission of education to continue after volunteers have left Malawi. The remaining volunteers will pair off in teaching teams assigned to groups of students. Teachers typically stay with their groups for the duration of the three day camp. The roles of World Camp volunteers rotate from camp to camp.
The day begins as World Camp volunteers form a big circle outside with all the students and teachers who will participate in the camp. After greeting the group, World Camp facilitators introduce songs to engage and entertain students. This is an excellent ice breaker and establishes early rapport with students and teachers. Students are then divided into smaller groups and introduced to a series of leadership and teamwork activities to get to know each other and their World Camp instructors. Classes start after these morning activities.
Teachers and students retreat to individual classrooms to begin the World Camp HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention curriculum. Curriculum activities include games to introduce the basics of HIV/AIDS education, interactive demonstrations to illustrate how the disease develops in the human body, and question and answer periods for students to speak freely about their concerns. World Camp works with translators from a Malawian university to ensure teachers and students get the most out of each meeting.
World Camp takes a break at lunchtime to serve all participants a beverage and traditional meal. Groups return to the classroom after lunch to begin work on presentations. World Camp stresses the need to teach individuals how to teach others. To this end, students have the opportunity to present what they’ve learned to other student groups, as well as to teachers, community members and tribal elders. This happens on the third day of camp. Classroom time is interspersed with planning and preparation for the presentation, which may be a skit, song, game or other appropriate activity. Class days end around three o’clock, when the whole school reunites for more games and songs to end the day on a high note before volunteers return to Lilongwe for the night.
Back in Lilongwe, World Camp volunteers can make a quick grocery stop, check email if needed, change money, and run any other important errands. World Camp volunteers are generally back at the house by 5 or 6 pm to prepare materials for the next day and then relax, take showers, and cook dinner. Most evenings World Camp volunteers participate in a camp evaluation. This is a time for volunteers to discuss the day’s successes and challenges and work together to make improvements. In addition, World Camp hosts local guests at the house to speak to volunteers about Malawian life. Guests in the past have included individuals living with HIV and primary school teachers from rural and urban schools. Volunteers are given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about life in Malawi. WC also conducts Chichewa lessons to volunteers in order to promote communication between volunteers and villagers. Volunteers are encouraged to make the most of their volunteer experience through exploring Malawian culture and life. After a full day of work, many volunteers sack out before 9 or 10 pm.
When the schedule allows a day off from teaching, World Camp volunteers may visit beautiful Lake Malawi, or go on hikes in the mountains outside of Lilongwe. Once a session volunteers take an extended teaching break and go on safari in Zambia.
For a complete description of the Malawi program, please download our Malawi program volunteer packet.
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If you have any questions or are interested in more information, please contact World Camp at 888-297-9669, email [email protected], or use the World Camp Online Information Request Form.