First Impressions

Yeeey! I’m here and it’s great!!!

Nkhata Bay, my home for the next few months, is a vibrant port town right on the shores of Lake Malawi. Butterfly Lodge, where I have a chalet, is a short walk up a hill and out of town. It is such a beautiful place, set on a hill sloping down to the lake, chalets rest amongst palm trees and there is a feeling of total tranquillity. My chalet is right on the lake, so each night I have the luxury of falling asleep to the sound of the waves, yep, the lake is that big it has waves!

I’ve never been to a place where people are so friendly and welcoming, only here has it ever happened that I’ve stumbled on the street, and a local Malawian has apologised for my mistake, ‘Sorry, sorry!’ The what should be ten minute walk to town, usually takes double, even triple! As here, greetings and having a chat with nearly everyone you pass is the norm and could be considered rude if ignored! Daytime starts around 5 / 6ish as this is the coolest time of day, then usually finishes at around 9/ 10pm. Fashion is timeless and follows no rules except one, it has to be snappy! It’s not unusual to see someone walking down the street in a posh tweed suit from the seventies, the fashion era is irrelevant! Being an absence of toy shops the kids here are surprisingly creative with what they have, the other day I saw a group of children that had made hats out of empty shot sachets, I was really impressed!

Chikhale school, where I am teaching, is right by the Lake and a short walk from where I am staying. On my first day I took the resources that were donated to the school, kids and teachers were all really excited to receive the goodies, so thanks again for anyone who donated. Although I expected to see a large intake of children, I was really surprised to find that 2 classes of children didn’t even have a classroom to teach in, with their entire school day being taught under a tree! The school has a development plan and is in the process of fundraising to build the additional classrooms but progress is slow due to lack of funding from the government. I always imagined that the money that we raised would be used to build an additional house for a teacher, however, this was before I realised that there were 2 classes at the school without a classroom. Myself, governor’s and members of the school committee are having a meeting this Saturday to discuss the school’s development, the budget, their fundraising and the fundraising that we’ve done. Will keep you posted!

I have been really lucky to meet Josie and Alice , the two girls that run Butterfly Lodge. They’re really supportive of the storytelling project and the work I’m doing in school, they are also members of the school committee. They both have a strong involvement in the community with a great forward vision. They run numerous projects including: building playgrounds in schools, HIV awareness and building and managing a children’s nursery. Onsite at the Lodge is; an information and resource centre for locals and a youth club that is ran daily.

Working at the school has been great so far, the kids are really enjoying the storytelling project and the teachers are all lovely, although getting up early in the morning is a bit of a killer, on a positive note, I’m done teaching by lunchtime!


About Katie Bushell

32 year old primary school teaching travel monster, combining all things I love by setting up an education project in Nkhata Bay, Malawi.
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5 Responses to First Impressions

  1. Diane Crute says:

    Hi kate
    It looks fab, thanks for sharing the pictures and keeping us informed. I’ll show the kids in school tomorrow, they’ll be really pleased to hear from you. Glad you’ve settled in ok. I remember the lake being absolutely beautiful. You’re so lucky to be staying there.

  2. Julia says:

    Ahh wow!!! So glad it’s all going well. Your chalet view is beautiful…..and what an amazing opportunity to help create the new classrooms… how brilliant?! Big Love x

  3. Eleanor Talbot says:

    Hi Katie,
    Your mum shared your blog with me and it is really impressive. what a lovely, caring and giving young woman you’ve turned into. I hope you thoroughly enjoy your time in Malawi and gain much from the experience.

    I know a school that has boxes and boxes of maths and other surplus used text books. Is ther any organisation that you know of via which they could be donated to your school project? let me know and I can ensure that they are all packed up and ready for collection.

    Wishing you the very best of luck and lots of love,

  4. Steve Williams says:

    Wow Katie!

    I’m glad to hear it’s all going well and you’re settling in nicely. It all looks and sounds amazing, especially your lakeside chalet. Have you tried fishing out your front window yet??

    Everyone there sounds lovely, and the projects going on sound really interesting too. It must feel pretty empowering to have raised this money and now be there on the ground to see how it can be put to good use!

    I’m liking your blog – it looks great – I’ll have to try and set one up too.

    Take care, have fun, looking forward to the next installment,


  5. Maggie Shaw says:

    Hi Katie from everyone in the newly tidied staff room! Joyce especially says hello and sends her love, thinks you are really brave. Missing you passing by in the corridor and very envious of the lakeside accommodation look forward to the travellers tales on your return. Starting to get a chill in the air here. Have you shown the locals your drumming skills?

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