A school visit to Malawi with the Responsible Safari Company.
One of the main reasons learning outside the classroom is seen as so beneficial to student learning is not always for the curriculum-related benefits but for the life skills it can help develop.
One company with this very much at the centre of its ethos is The Responsible Safari Company (RSC) – based in Malawi, with offices in the UK as well. It provides students with an opportunity to visit Malawi and take part in projects such as the Village Youth Community Project, which gives them a chance to experience village life in Malawi and contribute towards activities that will benefit the local community.
From joining the local youth group in motivating young people in the community to helping with homebased healthcare and library initiatives, students are able to gain an understanding of some of the key challenges faced by rural communities in Malawi, whilst also developing key skills such as communication, adaptability, leadership and cultural awareness. The trips are designed to be beneficial for both students and the local community alike.
Students working on tasks to help benefit the local community.
Below is an example itinerary showing what students can get involved with as part of the Village Youth Community Project.
Students will meet an RSC guide before travelling to their linked community. A local village lunch and entertainment will then provide an opportunity for students to meet those in the community and the youth group will be there to greet and tell them more about what the group will be doing over the coming days. Students will then settle down in their accommodation in a nearby hostel.
After breakfast, students will arrive in the village where the youth group will provide a morning briefing and village walk to acclimatise to the surroundings. The afternoon will be spent preparing for the week, meeting the local chief and playing sports with the local children.
Day 3 – Day 6
Project days. These aim to immerse students in village life.
Activities can involve:
- Homebased care – this involves students working with the local HIV/AIDS home based care team and visiting families in the programme. Students will help with tasks such as completing household chores.
- Assist with the youth library project – pupils will visit the village library and lead a reading group with five to ten year olds, as part of a community literacy programme.
- Work on a tree seedling project – students will work with the Community Initiative for Self-Reliance (CISER) to identify and document seedlings that are growing in the village nursery. They will then help to prepare educational material for the community to help generate awareness of key environmental issues, such as deforestation and fuel efficient practices.
- Youth group workshops – these workshops are designed to tackle key development challenges in the local community. Students will learn about issues such as supply of materials, lack of financing, weather patterns and cultural and political challenges faced by the community.
After breakfast, students will take a trip to Lake Malawi. They will arrive for lunch and can take a snorkelling trip in the fresh waters of the lake, before learning about access to clean water in the community. They will spend the evening under the stars eating supper on the beach.
Day eight will be spent on the shores of Lake Malawi. Students can choose to relax on the beach, take a boat trip or kayak to a nearby island for a picnic lunch. This will be also an opportunity to soak up the local culture.
Students arrive back in their village. There will then be an opportunity to join the youth group in preparing a day of workshops and drama at the local village school.
Day 10 - Day 13
Project days. Trips usually involve numerous projects and so day ten to 13 will be taken up with working on some of the activity options not completed between days three and six.
As part of the last day with the youth group, students will enjoy a village party. They will learn to cook local Malawian food and be taught how to dance Malawi style.
Before travelling to Malawi
Students are advised to undertake 12 to 18 months of planning and preparation before their expedition, including fundraising for the trip.
Activities such as bake sales, fashion shows, car washes, play productions and fancy dress are recommended by the RSC as ways the whole school are able to get involved in fundraising initiatives.
Prior to travelling, an RSC representative can visit your school to discuss the trip and what to expect and provide a workshop for students, teachers and parents.
Every trip is tailor made to suit the school’s interests, objectives, budget and time frame.