Less than one month into my latest teaching position and I’m already off on a residential trip – a 3 day, 2 night jaunt with seventeen Year 5 children to a completely different world from the relative prosperity of Lilongwe.
We were heading 250km north to a place called Luwawa as part of our current unit of learning: equal opportunities.
The larger area is known as Luwawa Forest Reserve, which was once the largest manmade forest in Africa, full of an alluring mixture of indigenous trees and a towering Mexican species called Pinus Pitala. The latter was specifically imported due to its resistance to drought, a problem which is causing massive stress to the area and country.
Destruction and deforestation has led to Luwawa losing this title to a location in Kenya.
In spite of the decreased forest area, Luwawa Forest Reserve is a beautiful area to walk through. The gentle swoosh of the wind through the long grass is particularly relaxing.
Another spot of tranquillity can be found at the dam in Luwawa, built in the 1950s by the British. They actually gave the name to the area; it was originally called Mwawa, but the colonists couldn’t pronounce this correctly so changed it to Luwawa.
The place we stayed in Luwawa was also incredibly peaceful and enjoyable, with two wonderfully caring and sociable owners in George and Christine. Luwawa Forest Lodge is somewhere I can certainly envisage myself returning to without nine-year-olds in tow in the future, particularly to experience some of the other activities on offer such as abseiling.
More raucous was the local school we visited. It was certainly a humbling experience seeing a school very different from our own. There was one main classroom for all to use. We also played an entertaining game of football with the children from that school.
I hope the children learned a lot from the three-day trip: I certainly did. Unusually for a residential trip, it was relatively stress-free and relaxing as the lodge had organised all of the activities. Luwawa is a place I’m definitely looking forward to visiting again next year.
Love you all