Over the summer of 2017, eight VVS students and two teachers set off for the distant continent of Africa to participate in the true meaning of service and global citizenship in the living classroom of Malawi. Here the group spent the month of June working at a grassroots level supporting communities that are empowering their own youth to create change. The annual visit to Malawi is part of the VVS Global Goals Program.
In Namalo Village the students painted the Chief’s house and the pit latrines at the feeding center that were built by last year’s VVS students.
Over $10,000 of cloth baby diapers, transported in the student’s luggage, were eagerly received by the Open Arms Infant Homes in Mangochi.
The group also delivered thousands of dollars of science equipment, 2 sets of soccer uniforms, and 150 Days for Girls Menstrual Kits to the Hillside Secondary School where VVS sponsors 25 girls.
At the Pemphero Secondary School our group was greeted with songs and smiles from local students who include 17 girls sponsored by VVS.
During a visit to Msinje Village, our group helped construct a new feeding center.
Having spent many long hours sorting reading glasses back at VVS, our students were rewarded with the joy of distributing over 3,000 pairs of glasses, and 40 pairs of specialty glasses for pre-identified, severely low vision children.
Participants: Alex Tehfi, William Schwindenhammer, Alexia Lino, Hanna Hartwig, Nam Ha, Kat Guillot, Kate Brovina, Xander Kraus-McLean, and teachers Caroline Diehl and Natalie Rockwell.
Click here to see the 2017 Malawi Photo Gallery
Quotes from our VVS Students
The Malawi program is one of the greatest opportunities a school could offer to its students. This trip has taught me so much about compassion, kindness, gratefulness, and respect like no other experience has before. Serving others submerged in the unfamiliar has shaped the way I perceive different cultures and has shown me how important volunteering is to our world. I believe that anyone who is willing to work hard and live outside their comfort zone for 3 short weeks will never regret it! William Schwindenhammer, Class of 2018
The people of Malawi have a Mungoli happiness. They are constantly in rhythm with themselves and the people around them. They know how to create there own sunshine, they know how to find the gold from the stone, and they repay the gratitude with grace and gratitude. The people of Malawi are not happy just because it seems like a good end result or for anyone else, they are happy because the happiness comes from them as a choice within themselves. They make the most out of everyday and THAT is why Malawi is the warm heart of Africa.
Kat Guillot, Class of 2017
Malawi was eye opening in every way imaginable. The pure happiness of everyone we came across was heartwarming and was radiated in such a way that I couldn’t help but smile throughout every encounter with the Malawian people. I could write about countless moments, every day was a new adventure and a new insight, but the aspect of the trip that stuck out the most was how much education meant to the people we came across, specifically girls. When we went to Pemphero school in Mangochi, we were greeted by the sponsored girls via songs, dances, and, typical of Malawi, smiles. They sang about how much education meant to them in a way that I’ve never seen before living in the U.S. It really hit me how much we take for granted, and that things that seem small to us really do matter. Malawi changed my outlook on life and I’m beyond grateful for the experience, everything we did, and who we met along the way. Hanna Hartwig, Class of 2018
She said yes. Then I broke down but this time with tears of joy. It seemed unbelievable [Alexia spent 3 years trying to convince her parents to allow her to go to Malawi]. The process of getting to Malawi was a roller coaster, it broke me down and brought me up to only be brought back down… But when we finally arrived in Malawi, I knew that everything was worth it. The roller coaster led me to the most beautiful place in the world to meet the kindest people in the world. I would ride the roller coaster again in a heartbeat.
Alexia Lino, Class of 2017
Through Malawi I discovered how easy my life is and how privileged I am to have food, water, and an education right in front of me with no form of struggle. After the trip I understood the value of my privileges: this will make me work ten times harder than usual and not have any excuses to my adversities. Volunteering fulfills my life purpose and happiness, therefore I shall go outside and chase the world for the rest of my life.
Alexandre Tehfi, Class of 2018