Safely back home - April 4
Everyone made it safely back to Lincoln and enjoyed one final lunch together before going their separate ways.
Safari Week! - April 2
We finished an amazing expedition week by going to a local coffee shop in Blantyre. Everyone enjoyed coffee and pastries while journaling, socializing, and relaxing as we geared up for tourist week.
Tourist week began at a beautiful country club called Game Haven. We signed waivers of liability as there were wild animals surrounding the club. After getting checked in, we all enjoyed a refined lunch that consisted of several courses. The club offered many activities that included game drives, mountain biking, golfing, and fishing. Some of the group went on a mountain bike ride that rode right by zebras, wildebeests, impala, and a giraffe. Others went on a game drive.
The next day everyone tried new activities. Some went fishing, while others went golfing. We all enjoyed our time and the various activities offered to us. All the meals were very luxurious and we all appreciated the time to relax and see the wild animals.
Tuesday, we traveled to Liwonde. Liwonde is where our safari days began. After arriving and getting settled, we enjoyed a quick lunch and then loaded up on Land Rovers for our first safari drive. We had the pleasure to see an elephant and a Cape buffalo on our first day — two of the Big Five animals to see on a safari. We were off to a solid start. The rest of the drive included many water buck, impalas, kudus, yellow baboons, and warthogs. We were warned at camp to be careful at night as hippos frequented our camp. A few of us actually encountered some! Thankfully they are not vicious towards people in this area, but we still had to keep our heads on a swivel.
Wednesday we had two drives scheduled. The first one started at the brisk time of 6:00 a.m. We saw another elephant, and many of the same animals from the day before. After our early outing, we returned to breakfast. We had a bit of time before our next safari, so we enjoyed the African sun and had our final meetings with Andrew and Kalie. The afternoon rolled around quickly, and this time we loaded up on a boat. The boat included a top deck providing beautiful views. It wasn’t long before our first hippo sighting. We learned many facts about these ginormous animals, such as hippos can’t swim, but they actually walk along the bottom of the river. Also, a group of hippos is called a bloat. We saw many bloats of hippos as we continued our water adventure. We even saw a few crocodiles. All in all, it was a very fun safari day. We closed out the day with stargazing, movies, and good conversation.
Thursday, we had another early morning safari drive. We all had our fingers crossed to see lions, but they put the term scaredy-cat to test and didn’t show up. We did, however, see a pack of cheetahs which was a real treat! After our morning safari, we ate breakfast and rushed off to Zomba to get our PCR Covid test to come home! We ate lunch and got ice cream after our tests as a little treat and then headed back to Liwonde. The rest of the evening was free, and we completed our last day of journaling as a group. The night was spent similarly to the previous, as the stars shined bright over us.
Friday morning was our last safari drive. We went out and kept our eyes peeled for lions and rhinos. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any, but we did see lots of Cape buffalo which was a treat on its own. Upon our arrival back to camp, we enjoyed our last breakfast there and then loaded up our bags to head back to Lilongwe. We had a long day of travel ahead of us. Once in Lilongwe, we had our final COVID test to grant us access back into the U.S. We arrive back at the Adventist hospital, eager as we have one more night of sleep before our departure. The energy amongst the group is intoxicating as we are all so excited to return home. We loved our food experience, and we thank everyone person we met for their kindness and hospitality. Cheers to a trip none of us will soon forget.
by Maegan Balschweid and Kolin McGregor
Expeditionary leadership - March 28
This week was our student led expeditionary leadership week. We elected two student leaders, Chanti and Kolin. They do most of the planning and the rest of us take charge of a certain job such as finances, food, transportation, evening activities, etc.
Kolin and Chanti showed excellent leadership and they absolutely planned an adventurous week! The requirements were to plan one service activity, two learning activities, and two fun activities.
Monday was our service activity. We partnered with a local business, which just so happened to be a climbing gym, and volunteered to clean and provide maintenance on the climbing equipment. Our first learning activity was on Tuesday at Dedza lodge, a place that is famous in Malawi for its incredible pottery. We were able to learn how to shape and form cups, mugs, and bowls on a potters wheel. After marking the pots, we then were able to paint an item of our choice! While at Dedza lodge we celebrated two birthdays, the first was Andrew Saunders birthday, we celebrated with a large haystack dinner (Malawi's version), and a private screening of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
The following days we traveled to various coffee shops and bakeries sampling the best choices of coffee, tea and delicious baked goods that Malawi had to offer. This also included a meal at a very high class Italian restaurant called Casa Rosa, where we celebrated the second birthday of the week, Maegan Balschweid! What a great day!
After leaving Dedza, we went to Zomba, the former capital city of Malawi. While in Zomba, we had two more learning activities that also kind of doubled as fun activities! The first was a private painting workshop that taught us how to paint Malawian style! The second was another private workshop from a locally based Chocolatier. We learned how to temper, shape, and ravenously eat chocolate. But that last bit we pretty much knew on our own.
The next morning we went out to hike the Zomba Plateau, one of the many mountains that people come to Malawi to climb. We took a bus part way and then hiked the seven miles round trip to one of the peaks to have lunch with a fantastic view!
Once we finished skipping around Malawi, we turned our sights to Game Haven, a private game reserve! But that’s a story for a different week, stay tuned for more!
by Logan Carle and Roderick Crews
Dzaleka Refugee Camp - March 23
This past week the students have been assisting at clinic in a UNCHR refugee camp called Dzaleka. Dzaleka holds around 50,000 refugees from surrounding African countries, all of which go to the Dzaleka medical clinic for their ailments.
The students helped in various parts of the clinic which included maternity, triage, pharmacy, lab, and learning from Dr. Chibaka and Dr. Doris. In maternity, two students rotated each day and had the chance to help with post natal checkups for babies who were one week old and examine the mothers after giving birth. The nurses showed us how to give injections and after that we gave many injections to the patients who needed it. One group had a chance to assist in a birthing delivery.
In triage, two students rotated each day. In this rotation we took the initial assessment of patients by taking their vitals which included pulse, blood pressure, Sp02, respirations, temperature and weight. Then they stayed in line to see either Dr. Chibaka or Dr. Doris to be further assessed. Patients are sent to the laboratory for malaria tests, Hb tests, pregnancy tests, covid tests, glucose tests, and blood tests. We performed all these tests on the patients and recorded their results. Lastly, patients are sent to the pharmacy to collect their prescriptions. Our group helped by preparing the prescriptions and sending the patients off with the correct medication and instruction.
Even though we are not in The States, it did not stop us from celebrating St. Patrick’s day! We had green popcorn, green cake, green sparkling drink and fruit! We played a trivia game of St. Patrick’s and even if not all of us knew much about it, we enjoyed each others company with laughter! Thank you Ian and Adrianna!
A group's favorite food was the chipati. The group leaders walked to a nearby market every single day to buy it for lunch. Vendors were always surprised when we would request an order of 32+ chipatis, but they were never wasted.
Lastly, we all had a very fun and relaxing weekend finding cute cafes around town and competing in an “amazing race” around Lilongwe! Not everyone can be a winner, but we all had fun and enjoyed experiencing more of Malawi. We could not be more grateful for the opportunity to help and learn!
by Sharon Pizarro and Jordyn Hammond
Matandani Adventist Mission - March 14
Hey everyone! Lauren and Kayleigh again reporting on our exciting week of clinic work last week in the Matandani village! Our group started working at the clinic bright and early at 7am Monday morning.
We were split up into teams of two, all working in different areas. One team worked in triage and in the pharmacy, while the other teams worked with Dr. Chibaka, Dr. Limbe, and IRR/Nursing grad Matt Hunley. The pairs of students would switch areas each day to gain more experience. When working in triage, we would take vitals and note demographic information about incoming patients for the two students who were in charge of collecting data while the rest of the students worked in the clinic. When we went through rotations with Dr. Chibaka, Dr. Limbe, and Matt, we would help with the diagnoses of patients seen as well as perform patient assessments or medication administration. We also got the chance to work in the laboratory at the clinic, which is where malaria tests take place. We performed these tests on hundreds of patients throughout the week. It was a really cool experience to work in the clinic and treat all of the patients that we saw throughout our time there.
Monday through Thursday our group would arrive at the clinic at 7 am ready to work. We would leave for lunch from 12:30-2pm. After lunch we would head back to the clinic to work until it closed in the afternoon. The mornings were definitely the busiest time of day, while the afternoons were generally quieter. It was slow enough on Wednesday that we got to hear a presentation from one of the local doctor/med students on asthma which was really interesting. The staff at the clinic were all ready to teach us about patient care and thrilled to help us out whenever we needed it!
We learned during the week that there were heavy rains headed to the area during the weekend when we were supposed to leave (and the roads to get to the clinic are fun enough to require 4x4 vehicles), so instead of leaving on Sunday as planned we would have to leave on Friday. Because of this, the clinical officer offered to take us hiking to a beautiful waterfall near the clinic on Thursday afternoon as a treat before we left! We all had a great time hiking, and some of us even climbed up the waterfall to explore more and swim! We were very grateful for the break and the good times.
Friday morning was our last day at the clinic and we were sad to go but grateful for the learning experience and the people we got to meet during our stay in the village.
That’s all for now from our Malawi 2022 Team!
-Kayleigh and Lauren
by Adrianna Duehrssen
Spring Break! - March 6
Our spring break has been very relaxing and much needed after hospital rotations, afternoon classes, and the strenuous yet beautiful hike of Mt Mulanje. We got to stay in a cute little lake side resort called Thumbi (named after the island that it outlooks). They gave us hot coffee/tea and breakfast every morning while we enjoyed the beautiful view! Then we’d venture out to our many activities and to try to find the best place for smoothies, deserts, and lunch…sometimes in that order haha.
Getting to lay out at the pool everyday was one of the groups favorite things to do. A few of us decided to get our open water diving certification in the beautiful Lake Malawi. The colorful cichlids are indigenous to this lake and getting to experience the underwater world with them was absolutely breathtaking (literally). We also got to dive 30m down to the ship wreck they placed back in the 90s!
The other part of the group found themselves kayaking and snorkeling in the islands surrounding our resort. One of the favorite spots ended up being Otter point. Sadly this time around there were no otters spotted, but we were able to snorkel and dive down through many underwater tunnels that came to be by the erosion of the larger rocks over time. A few of us even got to go kayaking at night under the bright, star filled sky.
Lake Malawi offered us unimaginable beauties in the sunsets and scenery. It has made Jordan especially feel a little homesick of Barbados, “I still believe the ocean>lake”. We are now relaxed and ready to head into the next two weeks of clinics all while making sure we keep our burns in check with aloe and lotion. A few of us did end up getting sick but are feeling much better and in good spirits!
by Chantelle Bravatti and Jordan Gooding
Many ups and downs - February 28
Our fourth week in country was filled with many ups and downs, quite literally! The team spent the weekend preparing to hike up Mount Mulanje going over what to pack and how to pack our backpacks correctly. Team gear and food was divided up between groups that would cook together throughout the week.
Monday morning the team was dropped off, and at about 11am we were off on our great hiking adventure. The first day consisted of 5300ft of elevation gain over roughly 5 miles. We were encouraged to drink lots of water, eat snacks, and take breaks as needed. After many grueling hours of difficult terrain, the team made it to our first hut by Chambe Peak. The group leaders had our menus previously arranged, and the cook teams got right to cooking a delicious Pad Thai. Everyone went to bed sore and exhausted, ready for a good nights sleep.
Although chilly, everyone woke up the next morning ready to attack the next section of our hike. The hike was going to consist of more elevation gain, but at a much more gradual incline. The views were spectacular, and cloud coverage offered a nice break from the sun. Day 2 of hiking, the group sustained only a couple slip and falls. Thankfully, we made it to the next hut with just some strains and bruises. Everyone was grateful to make it to the second hut with no vital injuries. Dinner was promptly made and everyone went to bed early eager for our next day of hiking.
Day 3 of hiking, we had the pleasure to summit the tallest peak on Mount Mulanje called Sapitwa, which translates to “don’t go there”. The Sapitwa Peak is 9,848ft in elevation, and working as a team, almost all of us made it to the top! Clouds hindered a clear view of the land below, but the view was still absolutely gorgeous. After spending an hour at the peak, we carefully made our way back down. Upon reaching camp, we all felt worn out but accomplished. Most everyone participated in a group stretching session after our hike and then promptly went to bed.
Day 4 of hiking, we set out early, eager to have free time at our final hut. The hike was one of the “easiest” we had to experience, as we made our way up and down valleys. It was amazing to see the change of terrain in such a short amount of time. As soon as we reached our last destination, we all set up camp and got to cooking. Before bed, Andrew’s dad, Greg, told us stories from a well known book called Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling as we warmed up around the fire and wound down for the night.
The next morning, day 5, we all woke up excited to get back to Malamulo Mission and take showers. We were a smell to be had. But we still had quite the hike ahead of us! A small, energetic group, summitted one more peak, Nandalanda, early that the morning. The rest of the team, those of us with the most bruises and scrapes, began our 3 mile descent. Our pace as a whole was quick as we all were anxious to reach the bottom. At last we arrived at the base of Mulanje and we all enjoyed a cold soda while we waited for the van to pick us up. Finally back at Malamulo Mission, we all took showers and ate a big dinner. The team was exhausted and most went to bed promptly after dinner.
The following day, everyone relaxed and cleaned their gear after the week of hiking. Everyone also packed their bags as we were set to change locations. A large group went to town to enjoy a delicious dinner of Italian food and chocolate milkshakes. Sunday morning, we all cleaned out our things and piled our bags up keen on getting spring break started. The bus arrived at 10:30 and we all loaded up and headed to Lake of Malawi, our destination for spring break. After a long day of driving, we finally reached our destination and we all enjoyed a large dinner of burgers and fries. Today starts our official spring break. Let the fun begin!
by Maegan Balschweid and Kolin McGregor
Malamulo Hospital pt 2 - February 20
Week 2 at Malamulo Hostpital was not much different from week one all of us students have switched our rotations and everyone has seen some pretty crazy things. Some people assisted in delivering babies, and some got to observe amputations! This week has been very informative and helpful to us students. On Monday we participated in a “friend speed dating” activity to help celebrate Valentine’s Day, complete with candy and food.
Throughout the week the team learned how to keep ourselves entertained since the rain restricted activities. Anomia was a favorite game that everyone quickly learned how to play. At the end of this week the team leaders organized an agape feast, where we all came together as a family more than a group and traded stories of our best and funniest memories thus far, ranging from when someone got launched on the floor from a chair, to when we were stranded in Chicago for an extra night, to when we tried so hard to learn the local dances but really just ended up being a great laugh for the kiddos!
All in all, we believe this week was a success, standby for more!! (And wish us luck for our Mulanje hike this coming week!)
by Rodrick Crews and Logan Carle
Medical Rotations - February 13
This past week, 8 of the IRR students started our medical rotation at the Adventist Hospital in Malamulo. We were in groups of two and rotated through the maternal, pediatric, general and surgical wards. Assisting in each ward for two days, we would move to another ward and rotate from there. Students who started out in the surgical ward had a chance to watch surgeries ranging from amputations, skin grafting to cleaning burn wounds, and so much more. Students rotating through pediatrics learned a lot about malnutrition which is very prominent in Malawi.
The group spends the mornings in the hospital, and the afternoons we have our class- Travel and Tropical Medicine that Dr. Chibaka teaches. He’s cool! Class starts out with a hotwash which is where we talk about a few of our patients from the morning and discuss diagnosis. We’ve been learning so much! After a long day of learning and hard work, Ian and Adrianna (the GAs) threw us a surprise party on Wednesday night that consisted of a prom dress competition made out of trash bags, played jeopardy, had cake and just enjoyed time together. It was nice to be able to get to know each other more!
Nearly every evening, many of the group would walk to a nearby market for a rewarding snack usually consisting of cookies and juice boxes (embracing our inner child). On Fridays, a larger travel market sets up down the road, which of course we had to go and buy some fresh pineapple, guava, passion fruit, and cucumber. The markets definitely know our group by now, especially Jordan Gooding who single handedly bought out their entire cookie supply.
Going into the weekend, the medical director(a Texan) from Malamulo Hospital invited our group and several other families over for a delicious pasta dinner and good company, and everyone enjoyed the small taste of home. On Sabbath, we made the trek to the Seventh-Day Adventist church near the hospital. It’s always great to experience how different cultures worship God!
Sunday was full of team bonding, beginning with a good game of paintball. Any feuds within the group were taken care of on the paintball field, leaving more than a few welts. Displaying our battle wounds, we toured a tea estate in the afternoon and tasted different flavors of the freshly harvested tea. Safe to say we are enjoying it here in Malamulo!
by Jodyn Hammond and Sharon Pizarro
Learning the Culture - February 6
Lauren and Kayleigh here reporting on the first week of our Malawi expedition. The focus for this week was cultural integration, which the whole group really enjoyed. The first destination for our cultural integration class was a village called Chingalire. The chief of the village has a cultural exchange program in place that we participated in and it was amazing! We all learned some basic Chichewa (Malawi language), learned about and cooked some of the staple foods of Malawi, and played games that were common in the community. Everyone was so kind as they taught us, and got really excited when we participated in activities. There was a dance group made up of young people from Chingalire and surrounding villages who taught some of us traditional Malawian dances. We were all invited to participate, and we even performed the dances they taught us on our own. Because it was a cultural exchange, we also taught the kids and the community some dances that we knew. We showed them Cotton Eye Joe, the Cha Cha Slide, and the Macarena (which the kids far outperformed us in).
The first night we were in the village, we had all finished dancing and we were supposed to head back to our compound. Instead, we struck up a game of tag with the kids and they loved it. They kept randomly tagging us, pulling us into the game and, in turn, exposing our inferior athletic abilities.
The second day we also went to a primary school to interact with students and exchange languages. We stopped in the first grade classroom, fifth grade classroom, and eighth grade classroom. The kids asked us questions in English and in Chichewa, and we did the same. It was really exciting to interact with the students and get to know them!
The next two days after we left Chingalire were spent at the Mua Mission. While we were there we had a museum tour that showed the history of Malawi as well as how Christianity has been inculturated over time and adopted into Malawian culture. We were also able to watch some of the Gule Wamkulu dances which were a very special treat and hold a ton of meaning and weight in traditional villages. The dancers wore masks and costumes, and each mask and dance has a story behind it and message to go with it. We were shown ten masked dances, and the women had other dances that they asked us girls to participate in.
We have a few favorite parts of our trip. The first is from when we all learned the dances in Chingalire, and showed the kids our dances. Everyone was laughing together and getting along, and the language barrier didn’t matter. We were all just having a good time and learning new things together. Another favorite we have from our trip is when we played soccer with the kids from Chingalire. Most of the kids were at least a foot shorter than us but could run twice as fast
The first week of the Malawi expedition has been full of amazing experiences and amazing people! We’ve learned so much, and we’re thankful for all of our new friends. Thanks for supporting us and following along on our adventure!
And to all of the moms out there reading this we are being safe (most of us)
-Kayleigh and Lauren
Safely in Malawi - January 31
We've been in Malawi now for about 48 hours. We arrived a day later than expected due to some COVID test mix-ups! We took our tests the morning before we were scheduled to leave the country because Malawi requires a negative COVID test no older than 72 hours for admission through immigration. However, with the labs being so busy from Omicron, our results weren't ready before our flight was scheduled to board. Without the negative test results we couldn't board our flight, which resulted in a last minute scramble and a lot of hours of waiting in the airport. Of course we were disappointed.
However, God had a plan! Since we needed test results as soon as possible we found a rapid PCR test at the airport that promised results in 8 hours or less, so we took those tests, rebooked our flight for the next day, and found a hotel for the night. While we were waiting for the rapid test results we found out that our original test results were not only delayed but included false positives and a lost sample!
Thank God we were not allowed on the original flight, if we had boarded and found out that information after arrival we would have been denied entry and sent back to the US. Our second PCR test results arrived within the promised time frame and proved we were all negative for covid-19. We were allowed to board our flight the following day and arrived in Malawi 20 hours later (give or take). We took the weekend to rest up and try and adjust to the 8 hour time difference. Today starts the first day of Cultural Integration class.
- Kalie Saunders
Travel - January 28
And just like that Expedition Malawi 2022 is underway! Fourteen students and staff are on their way to Malawi Africa for 10 weeks! During our stay in Malawi we will be doing everything from working with local rural clinics and hospitals, to meeting patients and tracking public health trends, to backpacking mountains, and saying hello to elephants. It's gonna be one great big adventure and we can't believe it's finally happening! Malawi, here we come!