• Jack

Learning in Malawi. Part 1

So we have returned from our two week research trip to Malawi in southern eastern Africa and what a fantastic trip it was. We went out to Malawi to meet people and pitch our idea for a locally owned and run roller rink. We hoped it was a good idea and something that would be well received but to be honest we really didn't know. So we talked the ears off anyone that would give us a moment, but mostly we listened.

Our trip began in London and after nearly 24 hours of flying and hanging around in airports we arrived in Malawi's capital city, Lilongwe. Lilongwe has a population of over 1 million people and is situated in the central region. It's a bustling place, and we were warmly welcomed. We found ourselves somewhere to stay and got a much needed shower and some sleep. Through our friends at Lake of Stars Festival (more on these fantastic people in another blog post) we had arranged some meetings with people in the music and entertainment industries.

First up we met Menes La Plume, the founder and director of Tumaini Festival Tumaini is a free festival of arts and music held every year at the Dzeleka refugee camp in Malawi. Menes is a super inspiring person who is doing brilliant work. Go check out the website for his festival! Menes had lots of insights into working in Malawi and was very enthusiastic about the idea. Something we didn't properly understand before arriving in Malawi was who would benefit from a roller disco. The question of why bring skating to a country that has more pressing issues than rolling around to music was one that concerned us. Menes articulately assuaged these doubts explaining to us that there is very little for young people to do in Lilongwe, currently there is no cinema in the entire city and also that the rink could generate jobs and money to help with the more serious problems Malawian people face.

It's of the utmost importance to us that the rink is run and owned by local people and that they should be involved in the whole process of making a roller skating facility. The rink must provide jobs and income for the people who own and run it. This is central to the whole idea. The question of what should happen to any potential profits was something we didn't have an answer to. After hearing about the brilliant work that Tumaini festival does at the Dzelaka refugee camp we agreed that the profits would be of benefit to this project and so the rink would feed into an established and worthy cause in Malawi. We had made our first friend in Malawi and found our first collaborator. Here's some links to Tumaini!

More on our trip and project coming soon, stay tuned!

Jack x

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