Elon students visit Malawi for service work
For the third consecutive year, a program through the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement allowed students to work with a local children's center and assist an HIV/AIDS support group.
Eleven Elon University students and two staff advisers took part this summer in an Alternative Break service trip to Malawi for service projects and immersion in the nation’s culture.
This is the third year the Alternative Breaks Program through the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement has taken students to Malawi during summer break.
The group departed May 26 for Malawi, a landlocked country of about 15 million people located in southern Africa, bordered by Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. Malawi ranks near the bottom of the UN Human Development Index.
The group spent a week in the city of Blantyre working with Chimwemwe Children’s Center, an organization that serves street children. The organization had recently purchased a new plot of land to build a Chimwemwe community center for a village. The community center will be a place for children to come and keep busy instead of turning to the streets.
Elon students helped with the beginning stages of building the center, which is expected to be completed in December. The group also toured Blantyre to see the streets from the children’s perspective. While in Blantyre, students watched a presidential election and celebrate with the people of Malawi as President Peter Mutharika was sworn into office.
Participants spent a day working with an HIV/AIDS support group learning about the difficulty of living with the disease. Malawi has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with the condition afflicting about 12 percent of the population.
The group then traveled to a rural fishing village on the shores of Lake Malawi to build relationship with children of a local school. Students worked for a week with the volunteer group Naturally Africa to repaint several classrooms. They spent mornings working and afternoons playing games with the children.
While in the village, the Elon group visited the African savannah and experienced life in rural Malawi. One of the most memorable moments of the experience was getting to see the long-term impacts Elon has been able to have in this village.
This program is one of many international and domestic experiences offered through the Alternative Breaks Program. For more information on the Alternative Breaks Program or for general information on how to serve in local communities, contact Evan Small at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 336-278-7250.
- Information submitted by Evan Small, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for student programs