Junior Reflects on Service Trip to Malawi

Junior Anna Rago traveled to Malawi in June 2018 and spent 17 days working with Pamoza International on initiatives in education for girls. Following are her reflections on her trip.

By Anna Rago, Villa Maria Academy Class of 2020

This past June, I traveled to Malawi, Africa for 18 days to work with the nonprofit Pamoza International along with 7 others. Throughout this journey, I encountered many new experiences that I will never forget. With Pamoza, I had the opportunity to work with the people of Malawi in five main initiatives: Christian outreach, entrepreneurship, health, education, and agriculture.

I have so many memorable moments from this trip. I will never forget when I woke up at 5 in the morning and walked six miles total to and from a local high school. I walked with 2 local Malawian high school girls and had the opportunity to learn about their lives. They have to walk 30 miles to and from school each week in addition to all their chores and other responsibilities that take up a lot of their time. What makes all of this work even harder for them is the fact that most students don’t eat breakfast before they walk to school, and usually won’t eat until lunch or dinner. For some, they won’t eat all day.

Once I got to the high school, I had the opportunity to talk to more students, and learned what they wanted to study in college; some wanted to be doctors, others engineers. Sadly, statistically only half will graduate high school, and only a small number of students will continue on to college.

During my visit, I noticed that the science classroom had the same scales and materials that we use in our science rooms. Some students are doing similar science experiments to what we have done in school, like the elephant toothpaste experiment. Even with this, they just don’t have all of the opportunities that we have here.

I truly miss the people of Malawi. I miss having the opportunity to directly serve with them. I learned so much from this experience and I will never forget it. The people of Malawi forever have a place in my heart.