The College’s links with the Central East African country of Malawi go back to the 1980s, when a commemorative expedition took place in honour of OL explorer Gino Watkins.
It proved so popular that it was decided to make it a biennial trip. At first the expedition focused on taking a largish group of Upper Sixth leavers trekking through the countryside, living off the land, and fostering links with a secondary school, Malosa, involving home stays and sporting activities. In time Malosa School became affiliated to the Woodard Corporation, of which Lancing is the senior school.
In 1996, the emphasis of the trip was refocused to become even more socially oriented, and three year groups (Fifth, Lower and Upper Sixth formers) were now invited to apply for places. Principally, links were created with a private mission hospital, St Anne’s, in the central district of Nkhotakota, the notion being to make the hospital the focal point of each trip, undertaking a project there whilst in-country, in addition to fundraising for larger scale building works in between our visits to Malawi. Each group of pupils going out would therefore have a lengthy run-up period (15 months) to the trip, during which time they would form the core of College-wide fundraising activities for the hospital. After the trip, some pupils who had been to Malawi would still be senior pupils at the College and would be able to continue to fundraise, as well as spearhead interest in the next expedition amongst the pupil body.
The more substantial building projects realised at St Anne’s have been: a guardian shelter where patients’ relatives stay whilst helping care for their loved ones (1998); staff housing (two houses) in order to attract good quality medical staff to the hospital (2002); S. Nicolas, a male surgical ward (2006) and a further staff house (2007). Our most ambitious project was completed in 2008: St Benedict’s Ward for TB patients, comprising male and female public wards with seven beds in each and eight additional private rooms. The £22,000 budget for this project was raised between September and December 2007. In addition we were able to supply the hospital with a new operating theatre table (£3,500). In 2009-2010 we fundraised for the refurbishment of the doctor’s house on the hospital campus. In 2011 we raised money for a new anaesthetic machine which was delivered to St Anne’s Hospital in February 2012. Monies are raised principally through a biennial sponsored walk and individual fundraising efforts by pupils going on the biennial Lancing expeditions. Retiring collections from plays, concerts, Sixth Form Centre fundraisers and other College based events, and generous donations from individuals and organisations further augment fundraising activities.
In addition we support two children’s homes: Jacaranda Children’s Home and the Open Arms AIDS infants’ transition homes – www.openarmsmalawi.org – both situated in Blantyre (Malawi’s second city and commercial centre) with a second Open Arms home in Mangochi on the southern shore of Lake Malawi. Monies raised go on educational supplies, clothing and equipment.
In 2013 we embarked on a new stage of our relationship with Open Arms, sponsoring the four boys of Rose’s House, a foster home for older children. Aubrey, Moses, Norman and Wilson now join the biennial expeditions, climbing Mt Mulanje with the Lancing group in 2014.
Every other year, a group of Lancing pupils spend all of July in Malawi, partly working at St Anne’s painting and decorating wards, outpatients and rural clinics, and partly visiting Jacaranda and Open Arms as well as spending time in local villages, hiking in the Mulanje Massif, swimming and canoeing on Lake Malawi and enjoying river safaris in Liwonde National Park.
The attached article (see PDF, below) gives a flavour of the most recent expedition, most of it in the expeditioners’ own words.
Malawi Expedition Summer 2014 (PDF, 3MB)