Waste management is an ongoing issue throughout Malawi. The country is deprived of an efficient or consistent waste disposal system. Bins are a rarity so waste is often collected on the floor before being transported to rubbish pits. For convenience these pits are situated in unhygienic areas near to markets and even on school grounds.
Many Malawians are ignorant to the true dangers of improper waste management. Littering is common practice leaving streets and public areas lined with rubbish. People simply don't take responsibility for their own waste products. If the situation is to improve in the future there needs to be a change in mentality for the entire nation. Targeting school going youth is vital if this is to be achieved. Getting kids to start thinking about the cleanliness of their own community at an early age could ensure future generations do not encounter this problem.
On Saturday Team Sapitwa and Mulanje Mission Community Day Secondary School teamed up for a day of fun filled learning and community work conducting a waste management campaign at Mulanje Mission Hospital.
Patron of the wildlife club Mr. Manyozo gave opening remarks before deputy head teacher Mr. Goffat gave his blessings for the day’s activities to begin. The team of volunteers now paired with 50 school kids and a handful of teachers headed over to the hospital to give a helping hand. The first activity involved the cleaning of hospital grounds. Women and girls were tasked with litter picking while the boys and men slashed overgrown weeds. In no time at all the area was transformed into a clean and safe environment.
The cleanup was followed by a showcase of environmentally themed plays, songs and poems. These were performed openly in the hospital courtyard for all to enjoy. The displays covered a range of issues fromthe importance of tree planting to the possible negative impacts of starting a large family. Progressio volunteer Gemma Heath gave a special reading of her poem 'Mulanje Mountain.' The poem describes the beauty of the massif. Locals take great pride in the land mark and found the poem reflected its splendor. The performances really highlighted the youth’s mindfulness towards varying aspects of environment. A sizeable crowd gathered to watch including hospital patients and employees.
Hospital administrator Pearson Soka expressed his delight at the groups' work during his closing remarks. He went on to inform everyone of a tree initiative at the hospital, that has seen the planting of over 2000 trees. Many of the trees get distributed to local schools. Thanks to days like this more people around Malawi are getting involved with wildlife and environmental groups, making such incentives sustainable.
After lunch things got competitive with an afternoon of sports back at the school. Tug of war was followed by mixed gender football and netball. Mulanje Mission head teacher, Mrs. Kapasuze, made an appearance to express her enthusiasm towards the day’s events and the productivity of the relationship between the school and the volunteers.
Combining community work with sporting events is a fantastic way of getting young people to start taking an active role in improving the world they live in. Attracting young people to attend educational events can be hard but is made much easier with the presence of sports. The exercise is also a great way to keep healthy and have fun.
The day managed to reach out to a plethora of people from mixed backgrounds. It guaranteed the ideas and messages would have created food for thought for all in attendance. It's events like these that can spark a lifetime of good habits in young people and potentially change a lifetime of bad habits in older generations.
By UK Progressio ICS volunteer Dexter Barnes
Photo 1: A rubbish dump situated only 100m from Boma Market, Mulanje.
Photo 2: The group preparing to clean at Mulanje Mission Hospital.
Photo 3: Pupils from MMCDSS perform a song.
Photo 4: Dexter scores an outstanding goal in mixed football.
Photography by: Katrina Taylor and Dexter Barnes