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This year, our World of Difference service team will be traveling to Malawi, Africa to serve the people by building a school and working on permaculture-related projects. Each participant will bring with them 100 pounds of physical donations which will include items for local orphanages, medical supplies, medical textbooks, educational supplies, playground items and hand tools for the project, along with other items specifically needed in the village where we will serve. Malawi, located in southeast Africa, is the poorest country in the world. It is also one of the world’s least-developed countries. The population is rural and their economy is agriculture based. The Malawian government is striving to build and expand the economy, improve education and healthcare and become financially independent.
Our service expedition team will leave on Wednesday, August 15 and return September 2, 2018. This is the fourth year returning to Malawi where we can Make a Difference in the lives of children and families we meet and where a difference is certainly made in the lives of all team members. For more information contact us.
Two years ago our 2016 Africa team helped construct a Primary School in the Nasenga community in Mangochi, Malawi. That primary school was constructed from thousands of blocks that had to be made one at a time. This block building process began about three months before our team arrived. Our team members are seen hauling and laying some of these blocks during the construction process.
A library was also constructed for these students and because it was constructed from tires, plastic water bottles, and glass bottles, it is known as the “Bottle Bottle Library.” We brought nearly 4,000 pounds of educational and medical supplies and materials with us to stock the library and school, along with donations for local orphanages. These donations included much-needed medical supplies and current medical textbooks. Also, our team built two latrine buildings with 8 private stalls for the girls and 8 private stalls for the boys. The latrine sump (about 25 feet long, 25 feet wide and 20 feet deep) was dug by three men working 15 plus hours a day with only shovels and a pick. That project was started three months before our team arrived and was not quite completed when the team showed up at the project site. To put things in perspective, it would have taken someone on a backhoe from the USA about 20 minutes to dig that sump.
The headmaster from the school wrote, “On behalf of learners, teachers and the entire Nasenga primary school community I would like to express my gratitude to your group world of difference … for the construction of the New classroom block which has addressed the problem of our students learning under the trees and sunshine.” Prior to our team arriving to build this new primary school which now accommodates about 400 children, those students met each day “under the trees and sunshine” in a field to learn….no desks, no chalk boards, no books, no teaching aides…only devoted teachers who received little to no compensation but who desired to help teach these under-served children sitting in a vacant field of dirt and help them in the learning process, even in classrooms “under the trees and sunshine.”
The Utah Red Cross awarded the 2012 international hero award to Rick and Jodi Nielsen who began World of Difference to provide an education to children in Kenya. Watch this video to find out more about their service in Africa.
What is there to say about Africa that can be said with words? I’ve tried repeatedly to verbalize the sentiments that occurred to me while on this expedition, and I repeatedly failed. It is impossible to convey the profound lessons that I observed and was taught. All attempts at such a thing sound empty and hollow.
There are so many aspects of this trip that were remarkable. Starting with the foundation of the trip, our leadership was outstanding. Not only were they excellence at organizing this expedition for us, they also understood the intensity of the experiences that we would have here. They encouraged us to think deeply about our time there, and gave us several tips along the way to help with that. I appreciated the firesides in the morning to help us group together. Not only did it help us feel more unified as a group, but it gave us the opportunity to reflect upon what we saw, felt, and the different traits that we developed in ourselves. The strong character traits of our leaders and their sensitivity to our new emotions set a tone in our group of companionship and the love that is frequently lacking in large groups like this.
When Tyler Sommer, PA-C, visited Malawi in 2016 on a World of Difference Service Expedition, he led a group of Physician Assistant students from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in a clinical experience at a Malawi hospital. While there, they were able to visit other students at the Malawi College of Health Sciences. It was here that Tyler discovered that the college had only a few hundred worn-out textbooks, mostly from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Tyler, seeing their need, coordinated with the African Library Project, a nonprofit that collects and ships textbooks to Africa. The university started collecting books and Tyler stored them in his office, stacking them where ever he could find space.
Tyler was able to send more than 500 textbooks to Malawi ahead of the 2017 August service trip. All of the books are newer than 1995 and are mainly based on basic sciences.
Read about the textbook donation in the Daily Herald.