By Mrs Fiona Johnston

Back in June, I travelled to Malawi with Nevis to visit Mlozi, our link school. This was my first trip to Africa and to a developing country, so I was anticipating an interesting and varied experience. Malawi did not disappoint. From arriving at Lilongwe Airport, to negotiating the rutted, rain damaged track to our destination and to the warm welcome we received there, my first few days in Malawi were exciting and fascinating.

We stayed with Mr Chimtali and his family where we were very well fed and looked after. I enjoyed being able to get involved with harvesting groundnuts and maize and making a very small contribution to carrying water from the borehole.

Mrs Johnson's trip to Malawi

Mrs Chimtali is an accomplished cook, producing tasty, and varied meals from simple ingredients, most of which are produced by themselves. I have tried to recreate a Malawian cake called chigumuyoyo, made from soya and maize flour, but it just doesn’t taste the same here! However, we did have culinary success while in Malawi – Mr Chimtali, having tasted meringues during his visit to Scotland, asked if we could make some. Nevis fashioned a whisk from some wire and with wonderful fresh eggs, sugar and a few hours of concentrated solar power – ta da!

Mrs Johnson's trip to Malawi

We spent two weeks in the school, working alongside the Malawian teachers and learners. It was interesting to observe how different learning and teaching have to be when there are over 200 learners in one class. We worked mostly with teachers in the upper classes where all lessons are taught in English and we were able to engage with the learners more effectively. Last session, pupils in Gairloch High and Mlozi School carried out work on Health and Environment topics. I took some of the Gairloch pupils’ work with me to share with the learners in Malawi. We had some interesting lessons comparing results and finding out the similarities and differences. Here, the Standard 6 learners are looking at posters designed by S1 pupils in Gairloch.

Mrs Johnson's trip to Malawi

A highlight of the trip for me was when a neighbouring school came to play Mlozi at netball and football. For several days, extra training was organised and ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams were selected. Huge crowds assembled to watch the matches. Teachers were tasked with keeping the spectators back at the sidelines, a tall order when a net or goal was scored and triumphant supporters invaded the pitch in celebration. Mlozi won both netball and football matches and the celebrations continued until darkness fell, a huge swarm of supporters, running and singing all round the village – an amazing spectacle. The learners are so enthusiastic about everything to do with school.

I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to visit Mlozi School and hope that the link between our communities can continue.

Mrs Johnson's trip to Malawi

View some more photos of the trip by clicking here.

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