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Volunteer Teaching in Malawi Africa
By: Emily Carter (justin) 2012.04.01

TOURS IN AFRICA WHILE YOU VOLUNTEER!



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Working with a variety of organizations in 7 countries, BaseCamp offers tailored volunteer training and mutually benefiting placements. Volunteers work in schools, social and healthcare programs, building projects, as well as conservation work with wildlife. Travel with a purpose. See website.

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Lend a Hand in a Foreign Land

Finally, I was in Africa, getting ready to spend the next eight weeks of my summer teaching the ABCs to middle-school students. Weren't they a little old to be learning the alphabet? Sure, but I was volunteering at the World Camp for Kids, in Lilongwe, Malawi, to teach them something new: how to prevent HIV and AIDS. The ABCs I introduced to them were: Abstinence, Be Faithful (monogamy), and Cover Up (using a condom).

With mornings full of games and afternoons spent in classrooms, we taught the children what AIDS is, how it spreads, and how to prevent it from spreading. This is of no small importance in Malawi, where in 2002 nearly 20 percent of the adult population was HIV-positive.

You want a challenge? Try showing a roomful of 12-to-15-year-olds how to use a condom. We used a ubiquitous prop: bananas. Predictably, the kids smiled, snickered, and whispered while we tried to keep a straight face ourselves, even for such a serious topic. But not every teaching tool was so doctrinaire. The camp built up to a final day of presentations by the students, who had to perform a song, poem, sketch, or dance about HIV/AIDS not only for their teachers and fellow campers but for the people we'd invited from the surrounding villages.

The skits were my favorite, better than a good afternoon soap opera. These kids came up with twisted plots: In one, a group of boys put on skirts, swayed their hips, and spoke in falsetto. In another, a mother and father conspired to set their daughter up with sleazy men. When they pressured her to have sex with them, she chased her parents and her suitors out of the house with a broom and announced to the crowd that no one could force her to say yes to sex. She knew how to say no - boldly.

World Camp for Kids in Malawi (worldcampforkids.org) offers both summer and winter sessions. Costs are $2,100 for a five-week camp.

Photo by Emily Carter


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