The College supports Malawi

This year’s expedition was the College’s 18th visit to Malawi. Here are some reflections from staff and students:

Head Master Dominic Oliver writes: 
‘I had the huge privilege to be able to spend 10 days in Malawi in the first days of the summer break. The expeditioners were there for nearly five weeks on a trip superbly organised by Mr Smith. I have many wonderful memories from those ten days, but two stand out. First, the opportunity to reconnect at the chalkface with the Lancing students: I found it inspiring to help them repaint part of a hospital that the College helped to build; I enjoyed the day-to-day camaraderie: putting up tents, telling silly stories and spending hours in a hot, crowded bus, even if our tastes in music (and group singing…) don’t quite coincide. I saw abject poverty – and love and care – in the Open Arms orphanage and in turn saw our students react with compassion, warmth and a practical desire to “get stuck in”. All this and a great deal more reminded me just what a cracking bunch Lancing pupils are. Another compelling impression was made by the concrete nature of the College connection to the country of Malawi: at its most extreme, for example, our support is a part of a network that enables the very survival of babies and toddlers who, but for the Open Arms orphanage, would have no food or shelter. The funds we raise are literally a matter of life and death.’

Matt Smith writes:
‘This is a trip that breeds resilience and tolerance, enables relationships to be formed, sustained, in some cases perhaps rekindled. I hope it will have given the students a yearning to travel – maybe back here, maybe elsewhere; an expanding of horizons. It will have had an effect now and in the weeks and months to come.’

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From the expeditioners:
Seb S: ‘Overall my reflections following the trip have been of value and thanks. The value of both what and who I have in my life. Seeing and living among the Malawian people, in particular the Rose's house boys, was incredible. I've never before been given the opportunity to get to know people from other countries, other than fellow pupils, quite so personally, and been able to talk to them about their lives. I am extremely thankful for the experience. Travelling to completely different parts of the world is something I have always wanted to do.’

Ted F: ‘The time I spent out there allowed me to think about many things in my personal life, and the things I saw have changed my perspective on many aspects of life, especially appreciation for what I have. It also helped me confirm and reinforce my desire to study medicine and become a doctor as my chosen career path. The charitable work the group did made me realise how enjoyable helping people is and I would like to help others for the rest of my life.’

Becca L: ‘Malawi came at a perfect time for me, not only in that it was a beautiful close to my time at Lancing, but it also helped me come to the wonderful realisation that university and exam results aren’t everything. My decision to take a gap year originally terrified me because I thought I was going to end up being left behind, but Malawi gave me the slightest glimpse of the rest of the world, and now the plans I have for the rest of the year don’t terrify me. I couldn’t be more excited for them, and I don’t see my results as my unavoidable defining feature.’ 

Will H: ‘The trip was unlike anything else I had experienced in my life. I feel blessed to have been able to go, and see the country as I have, to have met all the amazing people I was able to meet, and to be able to share it with the people that were there with me. I am so grateful for the opportunity, and Malawi will have a place in my heart forever.’

Gus C: ‘Looking back on the trip, after assimilating back into English life, I'd realised how much of an impact the country had made on me. It was a wonderful journey that will forever stay with me. If there was one thing that I significantly remember being the most impactful, it'd be the people. The Malawian people wherever we went were always there smiling, being warm and welcoming.’

Punn Punn I: ‘Visiting both Open Arms homes was one of the many highlights for me over the course of the trip. By being there I saw how the money that people donated had such a big impact on the children there; a small donation of £3 can buy one month’s worth of protein supplements to support good nutrition and growth. Open Arms had opened up my perspective on what we call family and how much I take it for granted, it had also allowed me to really appreciate the unconditional love that my family have given me for many, many years.’

Max L: ‘My favourite part of the trip was visiting Open Arms in Blantyre. This was where I fully became aware of the needs of the infants and young children. The nurses who care for the children are incredible, I was really impressed with their dedication and happiness as well as their love and care for the children.’

Mabel W: ‘Parts of the trip such as painting at St Anne’s, or helping at Open Arms and Jacaranda, showed the College’s association with Malawi: although we hear all about it at school, and we ourselves raise the money (for example through the Malawi Walk), it was absolutely astonishing to see where the money is actually going and seeing it in use. I felt it was really warming to see how thankful the people of Malawi were, which made me unbelievably proud to be a part of this journey.’

Serena B R: ‘Words cannot describe how wonderful a place it is. Whilst there I don’t think I saw one person without a smile on their face or who didn’t welcome us with open arms to their beautiful country. One of the best things about the trip was getting to spend time with the five Rose’s House boys, who are such incredible people and who I now consider good friends.’

Sophie M-S: ‘The expedition gave me the chance to get to know people from Lancing that I had never had the opportunity to talk to before, who I am certain I will be friends with for a long time as we now have the bond of our shared experiences in this country. Most of all, however, the thing that struck me the most was the generosity and kindness of the Malawian people themselves. From the staff of the expedition, to the villagers we encountered who waved at us in the bus, to the coordinators of the various activities we undertook, everyone was caring and considerate; something that made us all reflect on our own treatment of others.’

Chris B: ‘Whilst staying in Mangochi, we helped out with a local building project and, whilst our skills weren’t quite up to those of the locals, it was certainly a rewarding experience. That skill with which the locals had shown us up proved to be even more impressive when looking at the equipment they were using. The fact that they could build these buildings with such little and simple equipment was really eye opening and showed how much we take for granted in the UK.’

Lydia B: ‘During the trip we saw huge levels of poverty, yet that was always offset with the unconditional kindness of everyone we met. Spending so much time in such a small group meant that all the high points, and the low, were celebrated and commiserated together. We met some incredible people, and to see the way everyone was so grateful that we had visited again, having been there in previous years, really made the expedition feel more than just a trip where you arrive, do a project and then leave: it felt like Lancing has truly helped people and made a real difference, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to be a part of that. 

Cerys J: ‘As Mr Smith said on the morning of our departure from Malawi, some of our most treasured memories from the trip would be those that were not on the itinerary: playing netball on the beach, the many games of Cheat and Irish Snap, and the not-so-tuneful singing whilst we drove around this incredible country. On our last night we were treated to traditional dancers who at the end of the evening, despite never having met us before, hugged us all as we said “Zikomo!” to thank them.’

Mary B: ‘The expedition has taught me about community, about gratefulness and about taking every opportunity you can. I know that the trip will shape me as I make decisions and choose my future, and I am so thankful for the experience in Malawi. Whether it was being welcomed into a family home in Sani, the wonderful day at Jacaranda children’s home, going on safari in Zambia or building in Mangochi, every day was a joy and I will always treasure the memories I made there.’

Jossie P: ‘I was able to learn a lot about this wonderful country but also a lot about myself and those around me. People on the trip saw me at my best and at my worst, and vice versa, but we’ve all come away with the most amazing memories and life lessons. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to visit Malawi and I’m grateful for those who shared this eye-opening adventure with me, which showed me that the work that Lancing carries out on the Malawi expeditions has such a positive impact on the communities it reaches.’

Ella P: ‘I saw first-hand the kindness shown to everyone, including people from very different backgrounds. I spoke to many people who were happy to talk freely about their family and their religion to a complete stranger, and I was gifted a small carving from a man who delighted in showing me the story of Noah's ark with his intricate carvings. Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa, and we can only hope that some of that warmth has come back with us. What this trip has shown me is that sometimes what people need is not the newest, shiniest equipment, but genuine warmth and welcome.’

Ellen B: ‘I feel as though it was a trip that challenged me in more ways than I ever thought it would; the difficulties of experiencing such a vastly different culture have truly helped me strengthen my determination, care for others and awareness of the world. Additionally, the length of the trip was something I both loved and found daunting at times: whilst allowing us to experience so much of Malawi, I also feel like there's so, so much more we haven't seen. It has truly fuelled my desire to travel more across the vast country.’

 

Malawi Walk

The College walked together across the Downs in the traditional Malawi Walk on the first Saturday of the academic year. It is an occasion to raise funds together for Malawi, while also showing a community coming together, enjoying the beauty of the landscape and the laughs to be had with friends, in solidarity with one another and with the friends we support in Malawi.

This year’s walk raised sufficient funds to pay the whole school year’s fees for Norman, one of the Open Arms boys we sponsor. This is an important year for him, as he is in the equivalent of the Fifth Form and making his final preparations to take his GCSEs next summer. Congratulations to all those who completed the walk – and some in record time this year! – and well done for raising such impressive sponsorship amounts.