After our two days of “Scottish Highland like” experience in the upper reaches of Nyika Plateau, it was with a sense of saddness that we traversed the bumpy road back ‘down to earth’. Mixed in with that sadness was the excitement or returning to the warmer climates and beachside vibe of the Lake.
Our next destination, Maji Zuwa, is located on the northern shores of Lake Malawi, and is one that can only be described as a venue that “feeds the soul”. Maji Zuwa was started in 2010 by (then) a 24yr old American who came to Malawi to volunteer as a teacher in Malawi. Once here, Matt fell in love with the country and it’s people, and something here spoke to him. He dared to imagine a project that would push development within the Malawian community, on a ground routes level, focused on education, and providing rural communities the chance to reach for the sky. A ‘one man band NGO’ sprung to life and the Maji Zuwa lodge became not only a venue for travellers, but also a hub for greater things to come. Over the years since it’s inception, the ‘Determined to Develop’ (D2D) foundation has grown from the seeds of one ‘boy’s’ heart, to a project that deserves true recognition and support.
As the owner (The Original Nomad’) Alex, and his amazing team, are regularly contacted and informed about projects and initiatives throughout the African continent. Whilst many of these are worthy, and as a company we support these as best as we can, (through Nomad itself, and through the Nomad Trust), not often do ‘we’ find ourselves humbled and inspired. The D2D project is one that has truly touched our hearts, and engaged us. Whilst the lodge itself is not a luxury venue, the location is sublime, and the community involvement and initiative is one that truly deserves a “hats off” approach. Nomad clients stay at a venue that has basic, but satisfactory, facilities, staffed by individuals who have often ‘grown up’ in the residential charity run facility (on site) and who are working on diplomas, finishing high school certificates, or building up to university entrance. The D2D project has grown in both substance and ambition over the years. A fully functional and successful boarding school has been built that currently caters to boys from ages 14 – 18yrs. These boys study full time with the dedicated staff and volunteers, covering not only the usual academic subjects, but also life and practical skills such as household financing, farming, eco sustainability and social responsibility. Students include individuals from around the country and from all financial tiers, some paying and some on scholarships. Their program runs on a 7 day a week basis, with teachers literally living and working alongside their students.
The ambition for growth includes a girls division as well as a tertiary Technical College. This entire project is still driven by Matt, and funded by grants and private donations. To date, 95% of all funds generated go directly to the project. Having been given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the Maji Zuwa and the D2D world over the past 2 days, it is with a heart full of hope and inspiration that we leave tomorrow, knowing that in this small corner of the world someone has the best interests of the people in hand. Good luck to D2D and Maji Zuwa. Nomad is proud to be a tiny part of this incredible example of how one man can make a difference.