The countdown is on! Next summer, 57 young people and 34 adult leaders will embark on an epic adventure to Malawi, as part of Berkshire Scouts’ transformational Project Africa initiative.
Following successful trips to Uganda in 2011, 2015 and 2019, the change of destination to Malawi was announced following a pain-staking process of due diligence that included a reconnaissance trip to the country in the summer.
When it comes to international trips, no stone is left unturned in the preparation phase to ensure everything can run smoothly and most importantly safely for the participants. The ‘recce’ group consisted of Simon Pickett (Expedition Lead), Mick Stocks (Communications), Ian May (Safety and Welfare) and Phill Wood (Logistics), who visited Malawi from 29 July to 6 August to lay the groundwork for next year’s trip.
Mick explains the purpose behind the recce: “We had always set up Project Africa to support projects in countries where we felt we could make a positive impact and leave a legacy. The past three trips were all to Uganda, so moving to Malawi required careful consideration. The recce earlier this summer was primarily to confirm our research that Malawi would be a suitable country for the next phase of Project Africa.”
Among those key checks were essential logistics such as flights, visiting and approving community projects, checking campsite facilities, investigating local services like medical facilities, meeting with local logistics partners, exploring rest and recreation opportunities, and assessing the general safety and culture of the country.
“Our first impressions of Malawi were incredibly positive,” explains Mick. “The people were friendly and welcoming, the climate was good, and importantly we felt completely safe. As an alternative to Uganda, Malawi ticked all the boxes with beautiful and varied countryside, and a wonderful charity partner in Joshua, alongside whom we can make a genuine difference in the community.”
Projects in Malawi will be very similar to those completed in the three previous visits to Uganda. They will take place in villages approximately 30–40 minutes from the second city of Blantyre, home of the in-country charity partner, Joshua Orphan and Community Care, a British organisation whose mission is to give children the best possible start in life through Early Child Development work.
Southern Malawi suffered a catastrophic cyclone, Freddy, in March 2023; much of the village infrastructure was damaged, so there is a great need for rebuild, repair, and refurbishment. The Scouts have set themselves a target of raising sufficient funds to complete the construction of a new community care centre and latrine facilities, as well as refurbishing an existing centre in a neighbouring village. The centres are used for pre-school children; feeding station; and general community use, with total building costs estimated at £30,000.
While on location, the recce team visited numerous sites and met with the locals who will help to create a memorable visit for all participants. The camping area, while remote, will accommodate our travelling contingent nicely, medical facilities at Mwaiwathu are good and private, and there will be ample opportunities for recreation, including a boat safari as well as a safari drive, a boat trip on Lake Malawi, cultural activities to get to know the country and its people, and local exploration.
The journey time will be long at around 15 hours, including a busy flight change at Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa airport. Once on site, participants will have an array of community projects to occupy themselves and to provide support to a community who are ready to welcome Berkshire Scouts into their lives next summer.
Check out the slideshow from the recce below.
If you are able to contribute to our central fundraising for Malawi 2024, please visit our JustGiving page, or contact Mick Stocks MBE, Chair of Project Africa (firstname.lastname@example.org).