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I am grateful, for the beautiful people of Malawi.

malawiIn England I usually wake up to the sound of a song I used to like before it started startling me at 7 in the morning and telling me I need to go to work. In Africa however I started waking up to the sound of a cockerel cock-a-doodle-dooing.

Yeah I know what you’re thinking; I too thought this was just something you see on cartoons, I too didn’t believe it ACTUALLY HAPPENED. But it does, in Africa, and it made me smile every single time. But on this day, I know it’s hard to believe, but my wake up caller was even better than the village cockerel; even more in tune and even more magical.

On this day I was awoken by the sound of Matilda, a 5 year old local delight, singing the winning lyrics of Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’…

As my eyes opened so did my mouth; I woke up, grinning, for possibly the first time in my life. I jumped from my bed, mosquito net thrown across the floor, and ran outside; again, a first. I threw the door open like something out of a musical and immediately started clapping rhythmically and wiggling around the summer hut; it was classic case of ‘white person trying to dance’ but I felt so alive and so awake and I did not care. Less than a minute later, a fellow volunteer burst out the other door of the house; she was also taken over by the spirit of Shakira. We danced around the summer hut for over 5 minutes just singing, clapping and smiling; people always say the ridiculous phrase ‘I could not stop smiling’ but in this instance I genuinely couldn’t. By the end of it my face hurt but I’ve never cherished pain so much. This was happy pain; yeah, that exists. It was like a small scale flash mob had erupted in the hut but there was no organisation necessary; we did need to be told to dance around like idiots, we didn’t need to be told to ‘smile for the camera’. We didn’t need to be told. We were genuinely smiling and we were genuinely happy.

This was the best wake up experience of my life and one I will never forget; I have tried to re-create it back home in England but nobody seems to want to join in here, and strangely nobody seems to have the same passion for Shakira as that little Malawian girl.

I got these ‘oh my god I’m in Africa’ moments throughout my time there and this was definitely one of the most memorable ones. A lot of the time you kind of forget that you’re in Africa, because the people are so welcoming I think and because it feels so natural to be there within days, it’s almost like you’re home and you’ve been waiting to come here for your whole life. But when it hits you that you are in Africa, it really hits you.

Malawi; one of those African countries that everyone who just watches the news pities and fears, is probably the place in the world that I felt safest, and truly happy. It’s the 9th poorest country in the world; 53% of its people live below the poverty line, but these people should not be just christened ‘poor’ and put in a bracket. Every single person I met in that country inspired me in one way or another.

They should be treated as individuals that, despite lacking wealth and/or possessions can still make a difference in this world of ours. I went over there to volunteer teaching but I truly believe they taught me more than I taught them. They may not have taught me in an academic sense but they educated me on life and I certainly remember more of what they told me than what my teachers told me at school.

I am truly grateful that I share our planet with these beautiful people. I am truly grateful that I got the chance to spend time getting to know them. And I am truly grateful that I can call many of them my friends. I can’t wait to go back to the Warm Heart Of Africa; Malawi; my second home.

About the Author: My name is Evie Dickinson, I’m 19 and I am from England. I am, right this second, supposed to be at university. But instead I am, right this second, planning my trip back to Africa. I have only just started writing about my experiences abroad but I hope it will one day be something I can earn some money doing! I love to write but most of all I love to meet the people we share our world with that we never thought we’d get the opportunity to meet.

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