What I am looking forward to for our trip to Malawi-Elizabeth Johnstone

I am anxious to see my dear friend, Rodrick Banda. I am looking forward to encouraging him for his perseverance and dedication throughout the past three years. I know that staying committed to WHEAMS has come at a great personal cost to him as he has needed to start a small business to provide for his own family as well as create revenue to be able to support the WHEAMS initiatives such as the Pre-School Feeding Project. The development of WHEAMS has been a gradual process and it took a lot of time before WHEAMS could stand up on its own and I am excited to hear and see first hand how this has happened in the past three years. I am looking forward to sharing laughs with my dear friend and hearing many of his insights on the struggles of local malawians. He keeps telling me I am coming home 🙂

I am excited to see the change in the children since I was last there in 2011. I am anxious to see for myself the reduction in signs of malnutrition. I look forward to hearing what the children have learnt from their pre-school teachers. I look forward to hearing from their parents of how they have enjoyed and been encouraged by the program. I expect to be encouraged by them to persevere in my own feeding/education program I help run at the high school in which I work to understand the real impact of nutrition and it’s part in learning. I am just excited to see how they have grown, at 7, 8 years old, do they still enjoy the sight of bubbles or chalk as they did 3 years ago? I imagine so so I will make sure to pack some in my travel luggage.

I am excited to meet the women from the women empowerment program. I remember in 2011 typing out their personal resumes and reading about their lives before the women’s group. I want to hear how they have been encouraged and how their lives may have changed since then. I am looking forward to meeting Diana Kayange, the community development worker who is leading this group of women. I look forward to hearing what she has transmitted to the women and in turn what she pre-schoolhas received. I want to be able to come home and give examples of how small loans through micro-financing works so that more families in the village can also receive such opportunities.

I am excited to hear how the plans for an elementary and secondary school are coming along. How has the construction been going for the school buildings and what is left to be done. When I was in Malawi in 2011 bricks were being fired to eventually form the foundation of the WHEAMS pre-school. I am looking forward to seeing the progress.

I am looking forward to seeing the water well, seeing water being taken out of it since in 2011, it was still being dug. How has the surrounding villagers benefited from the new access to clean water and to learn what is next in the clean water projects for the village. Maybe I will need to run another water challenge when I return home to raise funds for a pump to provide for a new school sink?

I am looking forward to hearing how the fruit farming initiative has been going. How have the locals responded to this new project and what crops do they hope to yield..

While money is never fun to talk about, I am looking forward to meeting with WHEAMS to exchange our financials. Accountability is a main priority for Warm Heart Initiatives. We hold ourselves to be transparent with all the money that has been raised and how it has and will be transferred to WHEAMS. Similarly, WHEAMS will share with us their accounting; where funds have been put, what initiatives have been funded. Coming back from the trip we will have all the confidence to be able to say that every dollar donated goes to support projects directly in Thukuta Village. In case you didn’t know, Warm Heart Initiatives’ board members have made the commitment to personally cover any overhead/administrative costs. We also have no salaries in Canada to pay for so we can really guarantee that every dollar donated goes directly to projects in Malawi.

Above all, I am excited to build confidence. Building confidence between the two different non profits WHEAMS-in Malawi and Warm Heart Initiatives in Canada. Nothing beats face to face meetings and seeing first hand how donations that have come in from Montrealers are helping through the work of Malawian in Thukuta village thanks to WHEAMS. Partnerships take work, trust, perseverance and the development of relationships. I am eager to meet the board members of WHEAMS and to share together our thoughts and ideas for Initiatives in Thukuta.

Lastly I am very excited to be sharing this experience with Amelia Birch and Jacinthe Dion. I am excited to meet Amelia’s nursing connections in Malawi and to brainstorm how to bring better medical services to Thukuta village. I am excited to see through Jacinthe’s eyes Malawi for the first time again and to see this former Heritage student’s passion to help others grow and deepen.