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Senior College Visit Partner School in Malawi

August 08, 2018 at 2:00 PM

With thanks to student reporter, Christie Martel and Holly Simmons

For the last four years, through our close association with World Vision, Saint Kentigern College has had a partnership with Chigodi Day Secondary School (CDSS) in Malawi; helping to develop the school and their community. 

As students, we’ve always heard about the changes that ‘Saint Kents’ has implemented within the communities. We’ve learned about the impact of a goat, the value of a cow and the necessity of clean water in everyday life - but although we tried to empathise, we never truly understood the hardships that people in Malawi face daily. Even though we knew that there was great poverty, there was nothing that could have prepared us, from our privileged lifestyle in New Zealand, for the extreme desperation of the people half a world away in Malawi. 

This was to be the second time that Saint Kentigern students have travelled to Malawi, following on from the 2015 trip. The team on the trip consisted of 18 Year 11 and 12 students, 3 Saint Kentigern staff and 2 World Vision Staff. 

From the very moment we arrived at the tiny airport in Blantyre, we were pushed into an environment that was drastically different from our own. Dirty houses the size of our bedrooms, little to no meals and unsanitary living conditions are the reality for nearly every person that we met throughout the trip. But, despite this, we were constantly welcomed with the biggest smiles we had ever seen. 

After each visit to each community, kids would run after our bus waving frantically and laughing. But it wasn’t until one girl, who was so desperate for some spare change, burst into tears while running after our bus, that we realised what the support from World Vision meant to them. World Vision represents hope. Whenever a van with the World Vision logo appeared, it symbolised change for the people – but we, the students of Saint Kentigern, were only there to observe. Walking away without us physically doing anything was confusing for the children and heart-breaking for us. But truly seeing desperation amongst children so young, motivated all of us to come back to New Zealand and spread their stories and continue to strive for change to improve the lives of our friends in Malawi. 

The partnership established has had a massive impact on the wellbeing of communities, villages and individuals alike. Through hearing Chigodi students talk about their new bathrooms with pride and the measures they have taken for sanitation, we learnt, in particular, the necessity of clean water and how we just can’t take it for granted in our own lives. 

We discovered that the new friends we made, although living completely contrasting lives to our own, are not so different from ourselves. They are students who take the same subjects as us in school, work hard, have big dreams and have the same, silly sense of humour that all teenagers have. The bonds that we made with our new friends have carried us home and have inspired us to use the education that we are privileged with, to its fullest extent. 

All the aspiring teachers and doctors at that school may never get the opportunity to pursue their dreams – so it is our responsibility to work hard on behalf of them, purely out of respect. We owe so much to the people of Chigodi Day Secondary School and every community that we visited on this trip. The relationships and connections we’ve created have inspired us to return to our own community and push for more involvement in programmes such as the 40 Hour Famine, that provides help globally, and Food Bank, that serves the needs of communities closer to home. 

We now understand how important it is to remember that there are people just like us who deserve to live so much better than they are currently living – that we should not forget how privileged we are, and that we must continue to use our privilege to discover more ways to get involved in communities who need our help. As students, we’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter how old you are to be able to make a difference. There were several student committees who were speaking up against child marriages and looking out for the general well-being of fellow students in their own schools. As students, we are able to learn from their leadership and apply it to our own lives – to bring about change within our own communities back in New Zealand. 

Malawi was an amazing trip with so many highlights. We sang, we danced, we laughed, we cried and the villages we stayed in were so rich with happiness, love and with generosity. From this trip we’ve learnt so much about our place in the world and the many opportunities to give service that lie ahead for us.

Our sincere thanks to Service Co-ordinator, Mr Mark Robinson and fellow staff members, Mr Hugh Kemp, Miss Justine O’Dwyer and the team from World Vision who made this possible for us. For those that had the privilege to visit Malawi, the impact will be lasting.

 

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