Students visit Malawi for service opportunities

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.

Ten Elon University students and two faculty/staff advisers took part this month in a trip to Malawi for service projects and immersion in the nation’s culture.

This is the second year the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement has offered the trip.

The group departed May 27 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. Elon students helped build a garden to provide children with fresh produce, and they assisted with renovations to the center itself. The group also toured Blantyre to see the streets from the children’s perspective.

Participants spent a day working with an HIV/AIDS support group learning about the difficulty of living with the disease. Malawi owns one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world with the condition afflicting about 12 percent of the population.

The group traveled to a rural fishing village on the shores of Lake Malawi to teach children in the M’Dala Chikowa nursery school. Construction projects involved building a kitchen, clearing and enlarging a garden space, and creating a drainage ditch. While in the village, the Elon group visited the African savannah and experienced life in rural Malawi.

The trip is one of 12 international and domestic trips offered through the Alternative Breaks program in the Kernodle Center. For more information on the Alternative Breaks program or for general information on how to serve in local communities, contact Evan Small at or call 336-278-7250.

– Information submitted by Evan Small, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for student programs