Malawi - through the eyes of a visitor

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If measured on income per capita, Malawi is not a wealthy country, but the richness lies with its people. This is why not only the warm temperatures have given the African country its nickname "The Warm Heart of Africa". The nickname is earned by the warm hearts of its people. Knowing very little about Malawi, I traveled to the country with curiosity and an open mind to learn about The Warm Heart of Africa.

Growing up, most kids have heard the story of the rabbit and the turtle that challenge each other to race. As the rabbit's overconfidence makes him take a short nap while the turtle keeps going, one step at a time, the turtle wins the race. This story came up during a dinner conversation, when I asked one of our Malawian hosts about the Malawian culture and beliefs and I realized why time is a very different thing in Malawi than my home country, Denmark. Because in Malawi, slow and steady always win.

"So, if you ask for a volunteer in a classroom to speak on the behalf of her whole class, a volunteer will stand up and deliver the most incredible speech, just like that and unrehearsed."

Louise Kofod Thomsen
Head of Impact at Kwera

Slow and steady is also the impact made by Kwera as working with higher education takes 4-5 years before the goal is reached and a university student graduates. So one would think. But as the Danish and Malawian team traveled Malawi and visited 4 different public universities as well as a good part of the Kwera Student Climbers, it soon became clear that the impact of higher education lies not only with the end result.

At Malawian higher education institutions, the students are taught to use their voices, speak from their hearts and become inspiring leaders. So, if you ask for a volunteer in a classroom to speak on the behalf of her whole class, a volunteer will stand up and deliver the most incredible speech, just like that and unrehearsed. If Malawian students want to achieve great things in life, for themselves and for their communities, they will have to work hard, because nothing comes easy. Whether it be to climb the education ladder, find solutions to accommodation and upkeep during their studies or give back to their families and close relationships once they have just a little bit more.

This only makes it even more impressive and inspiring to listen to the students dreams for the future which every single one is closely related to a deep wish to change their country for the better. It is the student who studies medicine and dreams of developing a vaccine against malaria. It is the female student who already has her own clothing company and aims to inspire more female entrepreneurs. And it is the student who lost her parents at an early age who wants to help other orphans in her community.

Getting to know all the many personal stories, achievements, and dreams of a higher education student in Malawi, it quickly materializes how big of an impact Kwera is already making by funding and supporting 515 university students. This is not only a high number, this is 515 individuals who will make vital contributions for the progress of Malawi and their local communities.

As I am sitting and writing this on a cold January day in Denmark, I bring with me the warmth of the Malawian people who has inspired me tremendously with their can-do attitude, gratitude for everything that comes their way and for their strong belief that we will get there, slowly but steady.

Zikomo to the Kwera Malawian team for hosting us and showing us your beautiful country.

Louise is the Head of Impact at Kwera and joined the Danish group who traveled Malawi from 24-28 January 2023.