Lake Malawi Volunteer Projects - Medical, Teaching, Sports, Childcare

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NEWS: The Malawi Marathon - the race of a lifetime!

VOLUNTEER, RUN, TRAVEL! 21 - 27 May 2018

Race for a good cause; 10km, half marathon and the ultimate marathon distances available. Run side by side with members of the local community that you have been volunteering to assist during the week. Wake up at base camp to enjoy sunrises over the beautiful Lake Malawi and socialise around a fire on the beach in the evenings, with a group of like minded people from around the globe.

About

Naturally Africa Volunteers provides community development projects that address crucial need in disadvantaged areas. As one of the poorest countries in the world there are many areas of need in Malawi. On our project we work closely with communities to support health care, teaching, pre-school, sports and I.T education initiatives. Our projects are focused on education and sustainability so whilst projects provide immediate relief we are also bringing long term change for the better.

We are experts in placing the right people in the right programmes so your skills can be utilised effectively and you will get the most out of your time with us. Whilst on the project you will be provided with 24/7 in country support from our coordinators who will ensure you become a valuable member of the team. Despite its levels of poverty, Malawi has so much to offer on its stunning shorelines and visitors are welcomed to the country that deservingly has the reputation as 'the warm heart of Africa.'

Questions & Answers

I think the age is 18+ but you should get in touch with naturally Africa volunteers directly for that sort of information as I was just a 2 week volunteer.

Reviews

94%
based on 12 reviews
  • Impact 9.1
  • Support 9.8
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 12 of 12
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Malcolm
9/10

An out-of-this world experience

Myself, and two medical student colleagues, assisted with the Lake Malawi Medical Project as part of an overseas medical elective and, while learning a lot, had a truly memorable experience. On my first day I was met at the airport by the local coordinator of the project and guided back to the accommodation where the volunteers had waited for the new volunteers to arrive before having a shared dinner. As per day 1, I was superbly supported throughout my time with the project. I always felt safe and comfortable and this aided me in making the most of my limited time in the country. The accommodation itself had everything we needed - 3 meals a day provided, beds with mosquito nets, bathrooms with showers (cold showers but it's so hot in Malawi it doesn't matter), buckets and a clothesline, board games, wi-fi (requiring extra cost, I for the most part used internet from a locally purchased data sim as it was cheaper), and even an adorable cat and couple dogs.

My schedule each week was generally as follows:
- Monday & Tuesday: Hospital placement at the regional district hospital. This was separate to the project but coordinated by Naturally Africa in support of my learning as a medical student. These days involved departing at 6.40am to take a 2 bike taxis and a matolo (the local taxis which are surprisingly reliable for family cars that fit 10-15 people in each trip) to get to Mangochi in time for the morning meeting, attending one of the clinics while supervised by permanent staff who were either locally or internationally trained (these clinics including general surgery, HIV, diabetes, eye) and getting home by a similar route after lunch and running some errands. Of particular note was a kind and excellent clinician from Congo who had trained with the WHO and took us under his wing. Originally we had planned further involvement in ward-based activities but had concerns around the practises of preventing tuberculosis transmission in the hospital (patients with query tuberculosis/pneumonia were on the open wards in a hospital lacking X-rays at the time) and had decided to restrict our involvement to activities without this risk. A particular highlight was a morning spent at the lab being shown how they diagnose Malaria and tuberculosis.
- Wednesday: Wound care clinic in the morning followed by a medical education session with a community group of HIV sufferers. The clinics were great opportunities for hands-on medical care and plugged an important gap in the local health care system. Most commonly we provided care for simple wounds and tinea capitis but often treated large infected wounds and advised patients of the need for attending a hospital. The community group sessions involved us preparing medical content of interest to the attendees and relevance of the local population e.g. follow-up of malaria management and diabetes mellitus.
- Thursday: Wound care clinic in the morning followed by assisting with the charity's education project by providing medical education sessions to the kids (hand hygiene, how to feel pulses, what happens to food after we eat it) and taking part in games (football, roll over red rover etc.)
- Friday: Wound care clinic in the morning followed by an afternoon off to have a rest or perhaps start weekend excursions early.

On two occasions I also assisted at the local medical centre with antenatal care clinics.

Most days all the volunteers congregated together for breakfast, lunch and dinner that were provided. After dinner we would often play board games and plan weekend excursions. On occasion, we also received further education in the local language. We had early starts, leaving for wound clinics by 8am, and we all got into the routine of going to bed early.

During my time there were two volunteers spending a year with the project who took on the role of volunteer coordinators. They were super helpful, having the answer to any question relating to possible weekend excursions, technical aspects of the projects, Malawian culture etc. They, along with other Naturally Africa staff, facilitated our weekend excursions including booking suitable accommodation, coordinating transport, advising of the safe places to go to eat etc. The weekend recreation I was involved in included afternoons spent at the local resorts (lovely places of strangely polarising extravagance to the surrounding towns), visiting Cape Maclear (a coastal town with an opportunity for shopping, taking boats out on the lake and relaxing at resorts) and of course the safari at Liwonde (where we got up close with elephants, water buffalos, hippos and even a cheetah).

As a medical student, I found particular value in providing hands-on care in wound clinics, developing my communication skills throughout involvement in community education and, on placement, observing health care in the resource-depleted setting. As a general volunteer, it was out of this world to see Africa for the first time and meet the locals who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness and resourcefulness. It was a broadening and enriching experience, one that I was glad to do with the excellent support of Naturally Africa volunteers.

How can this program be improved?
At most, I can suggest minor improvements, perhaps having more tutorials in the local language (1/week ideally).
Yes, I recommend this program
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Shilsha
10/10

Fantastic experience

I volunteered with Naturally Africa Volunteers at their Lake Malawi Project with two other medical student friends in September 2018. I absolutely loved my time in Malawi! The volunteer coordinators were very helpful and supportive. We were picked up from Lilongwe airport by one of the project coodinators and were driven to Nkope Hill where the Volunteer house is. The house was lovely- we had a beautiful view of Lake Malawi from our windows, the rooms and beds were comfortable, we were given three delicious meals per day and they even had two cute dogs that stayed at the property (they were fully vaccinated, including rabies vaccine!). Only things to note is that it can get very hot in the house as there weren’t any fans at the property and we had cold showers but that was actually pleasant as it was very hot!). Our daily routine usually consisted of attending wound clinics in the morning (where we helped treat a range of wounds and skin conditions from simple fungal infections to rashes to diabetic ulcers) and teaching in the afternoon at either the HIV support groups, home based care groups or resource centre (an after school care program for children). As medical students, we wanted to also get exposure to the hospitals, which was kindly organised by Naturally Africa Volunteers- so we attended Mangochi District Hospital on Monday and Tuesday each week (40 mins from Nkope Hill) as well as helped with antinatal care and labour ward at Nkope Health Centre. We had a lot of hands on experience, which has put us in good stead for our future medical career. We also loved being a part of the Nkope community- everyone was so friendly and welcoming and we even learnt a bit or Chichewa (their local language). I would highly recommend Naturally Africa Volunteers- my only regret was leaving at the end of the program!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Deni
9/10

One amazing month in rural Malawi

My husband and I recently returned home after four weeks in Nkope, Malawi. We met incredibly inspiring people, both in the village and in the volunteers residence. The work involved setting up a new preschool incorporating the principles of holistic, child led and play based learning. We thoroughly enjoyed the work, even on the most challenging of days. We felt supported by the NAV staff who worked with us to overcome some of the obstacles we faced along the way. Our outlook on life has been altered, and we hope that we will never again be complacent about the myriad of blessings and abundance in our lives, since we have been immersed in and surrounded by the kindness, generosity and resilience of the Malawian people. We hope to return to Nkope in the not too distant future. Thanks to all at NAV!

How can this program be improved?
sending more information about Chichewa language lessons prior to arrival in Malawi.
take less clothes and more basic resources for the projects - paper, pens, printer ink, fabric bags for children's school books. Advise volunteers not to bring little plastic 'nick nacks' or toys that cannot be disposed of properly once they are broken.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Niall
9/10

Lake Malawi Teaching and Sports Coaching

My 3 weeks volunteering in Nkope village were the most worthwhile and enjoyable experience I've had in another country. The teaching was very different from here in Ireland but the staff working for NAV really made this transition very manageable. So much so that there would be nothing stopping someone with very little teaching experience from taking part in this program. The children in the area are an absolute joy to work with and really made the trip special. There is a wonderful balance between volunteer work and seeing other areas and sights in Malawi which I was really thankful for as Malawi is such a beautiful country. The accommodation is extremely comfortable and right on the shores of the lake which provides amazing views.

Overall if you are a first time volunteer or even a veteran volunteer, this program is a wonderful opportunity to see a new country while making your own positive impact on the area. I would 100% recommend any of Naturally Africa's programs and will be looking to them for future projects.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
10/10

Lake Malawi Medical Project - My Medical Elective 2018

I spent 4 weeks in Malawi volunteering with Naturally Africa Volunteers and it was everything that I hoped it would be and more. Everything from applying to landing back in the UK was organised and ran smoothly. The whole team including Marc, the team in the UK and the team in Malawi were amazing and were always on hand to help me with any questions or problems. The volunteer house was great and I felt safe and extremely well looked after throughout my whole time there.

I spent some time in Monkey Bay Community Hospital and some time volunteering on the medical projects in the community including treating people at wound clinics and teaching Home Based Care groups and HIV support groups. The medical projects were by far my favourite aspect of my volunteering. These projects are extremely important for the communities involved and I really felt that I was helping - no matter how small my contribution may have been in the grand scheme of things I knew that my work was appreciated by the patients and members of the community.

Aside from the volunteering, I had amazing weekends out in Malawi which again were organised by Naturally Africa Volunteers. Malawi is such a varied country and there are lots of things to do in your free time. Hiking and horse riding on the beautiful Zomba plateau was one of my favourite weekends and I would urge anyone volunteering in Malawi to go.

I really can't pick a favourite memory...it was the best thing I have ever done and I didn't want it to end. I'm writing the review 3 weeks after my return to the UK and I am still missing it so so much. I was so nervous beforehand and I wasn't sure how I would cope but I am so happy that I did it and I cant wait to do something similar again soon!

I honestly cannot recommend the Naturally Africa Volunteers Lake Malawi Medical Project enough. Do it! I promise you wont regret it. It was the experience of a lifetime!

Yes, I recommend this program
James
9/10

Malawi - Nakundu Primary School - November 2016

I could not recommend Naturally Africa Volunteers highly enough! I spent 4 weeks volunteering at Nakundu Primary School in Malawi and found it highly enjoyable and educational (for me). One of the key differences that I found with this organisation compared with others I had volunteered for was the focus on sustainability. From the training of the local villagers to create a trade for themselves to the introduction of solar and renewable energy sources. It was all tailor-made not just to help now but to ensure a volunteer’s time contributed to something permanent that would help the local community going forward. Whilst helping at the school, I went through a full cycle of teaching, revision and exams and so saw the end results of what we were learning.

Needless to say that the kids were awesome and I made friends with all of the other staff members who were very welcoming. The project team were great, Sam and Oga in particular with their patience over my below par Chichewa skills! Definitely a project that I would recommend to anyone - both a challenging and rewarding experience!

James Saout - Volunteer

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kyle
10/10

So happy I found this opportunity!

One of the greatest things I took from my travel and experience with Naturally Africa Volunteers (NAV) was perspective. NAV's medical, teaching, sports, and childcare projects exposed me to the culture, people, and life throughout rural Malawi, Africa- a place and people so different from my everyday life. I am a medical student and was working on the medical project, although I felt I was able to have a hand in nearly every aspect of NAVs projects, getting to work with volunteers from all over the world. So many people in Malawi are faced with hardship I could not have imagined, but they live with a great sense of happiness, family, and faith. I can't thank NAV's staff and project managers enough for exposing me to this in a way that was comfortable and safe for volunteers. People I interacted with were welcoming and friendly and the kids are so fun to be around, Malawi is truly the warm heart of Africa. I also had an amazing time traveling on weekends throughout the country with other volunteers safely and affordably- we spent time on beaches of lake Malawi, hiking, and on safari. We returned after every weekend ready to work on the projects which was absolutely the most fulfilling aspect of my trip and why I was there to begin with. So happy I made the decision to volunteer with NAV, I returned a year after my first trip for a second time to volunteer, returning to familiar faces, and I plan to return again. Both times returning home with a better perspective on life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sallyanne
10/10

Teaching in a rural pre-school - creative curriculum project

My time in Malawi flew by, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and wish I could have stayed for longer. The people are so kind and friendly and it has been a wonderful experience to discover their culture and enjoy their fantastic country. It was truly special to meet the wonderful children and teachers and to help them to learn in a more creative and exciting way and to see them all grow in confidence and self esteem, with all the children enjoying the activities and being engaged in their learning.
I will treasure the memories I have made and will stay in touch with the brilliant staff at NAV to find out how they are all getting on.

How can this program be improved?
n/a
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
swaélie
9/10

So, where did you go in Malawi ?

Perfect program if you are a pre-med/med school student (don't worry, if you have no medical experience, present volunteers will be happy to show you how to dress a wound + other useful tips ! ) who wants to practice a lot of wound care (dressing big/minor wounds, assisting on burns and fungal infections), shadowing in a hospital, raise awareness on the biggest Tropical killer diseases (Malaria, HIV).
I have also developed my interpersonal skills by working in a team during the afternoon sessions with the lovely HIV support group and the lecturing sessions with the HBC group members (good for shy and non-confident speakers). It felt really rewarding to apply and share the medical knowledge I've acquired during my university years and to see the powerful impact I had on this community and on the bordering villages.
The stay at Nkope and at Mlambe cottage is lovely and you'll also have time to relax during the evening (card games and other activities with volunteers) and weekend excursions which are a lot of fun ! (scuba-diving, safari, hiking Zomba's plateau, etc)
Tips: I stayed 1 month and wish I had stayed longer (1.5 months).

Amasangalala ndi Malawi ! (Enjoy your time in Malawi !)

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kate
9/10

Nkope Medical Volunteer

I came on this project as a medical volunteer. I am a 56 year lady from New Zealand. I came with a completely open mind as I didn't quite know what to expect. I don't have a medical background like a lot of the medical students that are here, but that didn't matter. I do have some experience in adult training. There are plenty of books here to give you ideas for topics for when you teach the small groups of locals. They are always very interested in what you have to say and I have found it very rewarding. Dealing with the wound care is a very interesting aspect of the project and a basic knowledge of this would be good. All the other volunteers were old enough to be my children but that didn't matter they made me feel younger than I actually am!
Every day is different and the time just flies by. I have had great trips at the weekends to explore some beautiful areas and parks. It truly is a wonderful experience as the local people are so friendly. Next Monday when I leave will be a really sad day.
I highly recommend Naturally Africa as a rewarding experience and achance to "do your bit".

How can this program be improved?
A bit more information before you come as to what exactly will be required of you would have been helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Rachel
9/10

Experience of a lifetime!

This was the experience of a lifetime! It was both challenging and fun.
The project staff are so friendly and dedicated. You really get the chance to be actively involved in what is going on, in both practical ways and in the discussion of ideas. I was on the teaching project but also found it interesting to hear about what the medical volunteers were up to; it was nice that the teams socialised together. It was good to have a mix of people with different levels of experience too.

Local people seemed very welcoming of volunteer support and I believe the project has made some valuable differences to their lives (I only selected 8/10 rather than higher simply because it is hard to comment on the long-term from just one visit) as well as enriching my own life. I enjoyed the weekend trips as Malawi has such natural beauty to offer as well as the warmth of the people. There was even the opportunity to learn a little of the local language. If you are open to new experiences and being part of a team, I would definitely consider volunteering with this organisation.

How can this program be improved?
We were the first volunteers to one of the schools and there maybe could have been a meeting with project staff, school staff and volunteers prior to the first visit to the school to discuss expectations of roles- who'd be teaching what etc. But it did all fall into place once we started.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Amazing project, amazing people, amazing country.

This project is fantastic, based in a rural village it is really making a difference to the communities around it in many different ways that they need. I was working with the medical project which consisted of wound care, HIV support groups and training home based carers. Wound care was a great way to practically help people who wouldn't get otherwise. HIV support groups were a great space for sufferers to get together and talk about what they are going through and socialise as well as learn about HIV and ask questions. The home based care groups were my favourite part of the project they were so enthusiastic and eager to learn about how to care for people in need in their village. The project staff were so supportive, always there to help or talk to and I always had a translator with me. The people I met in the community were awesome and so welcoming. Malawi is such a beautiful country and it is so lovely that the volunteers' house is on the shores of the lake. At the weekend it was great exploring the country, going to a music festival, on Safari, to uninhabited islands on the lake, horse riding in the mountains or just chilling on the beach, and the project staff were great at recommending, organising and facilitating these trips. The project staff were always happy to do social things in the evenings even things they wouldn't usually do such as a bonfire and toasting marshmallows on the beach for bonfire night and celebrating birthdays! This was the best 3 months of my life and I can't wait to go back to this amazing country!

Yes, I recommend this program

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About Naturally Africa Volunteers

Naturally Africa Volunteers provides teaching, medical and healthcare, childcare, sports coaching and wildlife conservation projects in Africa.