Malawi is a beautiful country bordering Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia. The people are extremely welcoming and although Malawi is not on the tourist map, the Mulanje Mountains and Lake Malawi attract adventure seekers from around the world, making it a great gap year location. Slow economic growth means that almost half of the population live below the poverty line, so education is greatly valued and our volunteers provide an invaluable service on their overseas work placements.
Malawi Placement Roles
Teaching placements in Malawi are either undertaken at schools or within institutions that support the community. The official language in Malawi is English, however many students speak little or no English on starting school. Volunteers teach a range of subjects such as English, maths, history, geography, drama and sport with limited resources and teaching aids. There is generally a curriculum to follow, from which lesson plans can be developed. Students appreciate the value of education, are very dedicated and volunteers support is greatly appreciated.
Health worker placements are one of our most challenging voluntary placements. Based in a rural health centre, volunteers aid the ‘Health Officer’ who does almost everything medical-based for their community. The role of the Health Officer is vital within a rural community and is greatly respected; it’s rare to find doctors or nurses at rural health centres in Malawi, so the demands on a Health Officers time are great and you will need support them and be flexible.
The role does not require any technical or medical experience and you will volunteer under the supervision of the Health Officer (although if you do have experience, that would certainly be welcomed). Patients who require specific treatment are referred to a district hospital. Typical activities of a Volunteer Health Worker will include: assisting with some of the running of a rural health centre, looking after a basic pharmacy and providing general administration for patient care, helping to maintain patient records, assisting with activities with babies and under-fives and monthly baby monitoring (weighing) and feeding. You are also likely to have the chance to involve yourself in other community activities; this will often be encouraged and developing links with the community through your role as a Volunteer Health Worker will help you easily make contacts and friends and help you to experience, explore and understand the culture of a rural area.
Environmental Conservation Worker
Conservation gap year placements offer the volunteer a chance to get really stuck in with helping with the environment in areas throughout Malawi. Work placements offer a wide variety of activities regarding environment conservation and sustainability.
Youth & Community Worker
Community-focused teaching placements are within schools attached to orphanages, or for children with hearing impairments or severe disabilities as well as at a local hospital. In addition to teaching a range of subjects, volunteers assist within the institutions and provide extra support and assistance as required.
What To Expect
As a volunteer teacher you would play a more active role in the education of children. You could find yourself working in a small village near the town of Mtunthama; a very rural placement, but one where the people are extremely friendly and welcoming towards volunteers. Due to the shortage of teachers in the local primary school, which has 640 pupils and only 5 teachers, you would use your skills to teach your own class whilst following a detailed syllabus. Once school finishes at 1pm, you would also be able to help organise extra-curricular activities for children in the afternoon.
Our health worker roles would involve assisting a local health officer with any medical issues that he/she encounters through the course of their duties, making a gap year in Malawi a great experience for those aspiring to a career in the medical profession.
Our conservation placements in Malawi are also highly varied. An example of one of our conservation roles would be to work on an eco-project in Livingstonia. Located on a plateau overlooking a beautiful lake, you will assist with education outreach for permaculture, help sensitise the surrounding communities to the issue of reforestation and gardening efforts and take an active role in educating primary school children on the importance of good nutrition.
If you decide that you would like to be a community worker in Malawi, the kind of work you would be doing would be very varied. If you were placed in our host community in Sangilo village for example, you would help out on the community feeding programme, assist local leaders with the supervision of the local nursery and spend time tutoring local children in order to help them strengthen the skills they have learnt in the classroom.
Accommodation and Food
Volunteers live together in small groups in accommodation that is located near to their placements. Living conditions are basic as volunteers live in the communities they are working in, but it is safe and secure accommodation. Volunteers will have to provide food for themselves, and will be able to cook and prepare food in their accommodation. If volunteers are willing to buy local food, it can be very cheap!
Free Time & Travel
Nicknamed the “Warm Heart of Africa”, Malawi is remembered fondly by all travellers who have had the good fortune to pass through it on gap years and explorations. A land-locked country with Zambia to the north-west, Tanzania to the north-east and Mozambique to the south, visitors should not be worried about the country’s lack of coastline. Lake Malawi, or the “lake of stars” as it is affectionately known, stretches over 500km of the country’s eastern border and provides ample opportunities for exploration and relaxation. Home to around 500 species of fish, Lake Malawi is an underwater heaven for fresh water divers and snorkelers. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on dry land, Malawi is also perfect for those who enjoy hiking. Mount Mulanje and the Nyika National Park, which blend dizzying peaks with rolling hills, provide what many consider to be the finest walking opportunities in Africa.
Local amenities in Malawi are often basic, so during the evenings and in your free time at weekends, you are encouraged to involve yourself in the activities of your local community as much as possible. People in Malawi are very friendly and welcome effort on your part to integrate yourself in their social activities. Malawi really is a country where the more you put in, the more you get out, and past volunteers have found setting up extra-curricular activities, such as music or sports groups very rewarding.
Volunteers in Malawi have the opportunity to travel during the school holidays and at the end of their placement. Many spend time at Lake Malawi, soaking up the sun or diving, snorkelling, kayaking or sailing in or on its calm waters. Others head off on safari in Liwonde National Park where they can expect to see rhinos, elephants, antelopes, monkeys and possibly big cats. Malawi also has a rich cultural history to explore, from Stone Age rock paintings to colonial architecture. Wherever you go in Malawi, expect to be awed, from the depths of the dramatic Rift Valley to the peaks of Mount Mulanje.
Dates & Costs
Lattitude Global Volunteering fee for UK nationals:
All departures: £2,500 (contact us for fees for other nationalities)
- In depth matching process to align your skills and interests with a placement that really suits you
- Assigned Volunteer Coordinator to help with all your pre-departure information, advice and guidance
- Links with returned volunteers
- Relevant DBS/police check fees
- Pre-departure briefing
- Airport pickup on arrival
- In-country orientation as part of country programme network of international Lattitude volunteers
- Day to day support from your placement host and a member of staff as your mentor
- 24/7 support from Lattitude, including in-country support from the Lattitude Country Manager
- Focus on your personal volunteer learning and development
- Returned Volunteer follow up and Debrief Event
- Opportunity to join the Lattitude Alumni
- Certificate of completion and references (on request)
- £25 application fee
- International Flights
- Onward travel to placement (if applicable)
- Travel insurance
- Food for the duration of placement
- Inoculations (if applicable)
- Pocket Money for weekends/holidays/post-placement travel
As a charity we always recommend our volunteers fundraise to help meet the costs involved in volunteering overseas. In many ways it is part of the whole experience. For more information and fundraising ideas please click here.
Planning your trip
We always recommend applying as early as possible in order to secure your place.
Please note that the application deadline is the last possible date allowed to get an application form in that allows us enough time to match volunteers and begin sorting out visas.
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|Teaching||4 or 10 Months||September 2018||May 2018||Spaces Available|
|Community Worker||4 or 10 Months||September 2018||May 2018||Spaces Available|
|Medical Assistant||4 or 10 Months||September 2018||May 2018||Spaces Available|
|Conservation||4 or 10 Months||September 2018||May 2018||Spaces Available|
”I know I’ll go back! I’ll meet all of my friends again because Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa, has my heart and always will.”Laura, Teacher