Life-changing trip helps Malawi pupils


A TRIP of a lifetime saw an Aldingbourne teenager visit Africa and help spread the written word.

Susannah Olliff, from 1st Aldingbourne Guides, recently returned from Malawi where she took part in a charity project.

The 14-year-old joined 12 other Guides and four leaders from across the South East for the three week trip to East Africa.

Susannah said: “The entire trip was amazing and I had so much fun. It was the first time I had been outside Europe and the longest I had been apart from my parents. Thank you to Girlguiding UK and to all of my sponsors for the opportunity to have that wonderful life-changing experience.”

Working with the charity The Book Bus, the project helps children in rural Africa with their study of books and saw Guides teach children to read through singing, crafts and games.

Susannah said: “As we walked through the villages to get to the schools, the children would run up to us and hold our hands.

“We shared a lot of waves, hand shakes, high-fives and hugs, as well as the children all wanting their photo taken. I will never forget all those smiling faces.”

In between lessons, the Guides served phala – a porridge-like meal – which for some pupils was their only meal of the day, as well as organising, decorating and re-stocking the school’s libraries.

They also helped with other local projects, including one which saw the girls help fix a waterhole, a brick building project and helping at a community centre.

At one school, the team found a termite infestation and the girls, along with their leaders, are continuing to raise money for the repairs.

The Guides also had some downtime which gave them the opportunity to kayak to the uninhabited Domwe Island in Lake Malawi where they could hike, snorkel and swim. They also visited Majete National Park and trekked on Mulanje Mountain.

Before the trip, Susannah raised £3,000 to cover to cost of travel and activities. Her fundraising efforts included a Malawi-themed music festival and Malawi-themed meal.