Our trip of a lifetime to Malawi

  • Taking nothing for granted: Lejae Nisbett tests a newly installed water pump in Malawi

    Taking nothing for granted: Lejae Nisbett tests a newly installed water pump in Malawi

  • Kaleyo James

    Kaleyo James

  • Dean Simmons

    Dean Simmons

  • Taje Hawker

    Taje Hawker

  • Zaire Williams

    Zaire Williams


Darren Woods For the past 16 years, David Thompson, the president of Bermuda Overseas Missions, has provided people of Bermuda, from all backgrounds, ages and faiths, an opportunity to make a difference in our world by addressing global issues through building homes, schools and shelters in countries where a critical need exists.

Seven years ago, BOM developed a partnership with Family Centre, which continues to provide opportunities for young people to participate in this everlasting experience.

Through this partnership, young people have travelled on build trips to Bolivia, India, Paraguay, and Malawi.

Bermuda Overseas Missions recognises the importance of and is committed to exposing young people to this once-in-a-lifetime transformative experience, who would not normally get this opportunity.

Once again, Bermuda Overseas Missions group provided the young people participating with the Beyond Rugby Programme [Family Centre], Youth Leadership Academy [Family Centre] and a new programme with students from the Ministry of National Security’s High School Programmes.

Deneca Zuill, senior community support worker at Family Centre and Darren Woods co-ordinated this experience through fundraising with the support of BOM to take nine young people to Malawi last month.

They would like to thank our sponsors, Validus, Axis, Ministry of Community and Culture, Bank of Bermuda Foundation and various individuals who supported our young people in this initiative.

Twenty-two volunteers travelled to Malawi, Africa, on July 12, to begin our life-changing journey.

During our 17-day experience, we built six houses from the foundation through to structural completion in two villages in Mulanje, Malawi.

Our team was welcomed with open arms and immediately immersed ourselves into the local culture and built relationships with the amazing people and families.

On our rest days, we explored the country visiting orphanages, hiking mountains, Safari Tours, visiting local markets and Lake Malawi.

Name: Kaleyo James, 17

Three words to describe yourself: Determined, Hard-working, Funny

Three words to describe your experience in Malawi: Humbling, Memorable, Amazing

What were your expectations, if any, leading up to the trip?

My expectations of the trip were to just build houses. I didn’t take into consideration the emotional impact, like the connections I made with the families.

What was most memorable or eye-opening?

The most eye-opening moment was going to the villages, witnessing the severity of poverty, and how the people lived.

They showed tremendous strength and courage to still celebrate us through dancing, singing and crowding the bus every day because of how excited they were to see us, knowing we were their to make a difference.

How would you say the trip impacted you?

Now being back in Bermuda, this trip has impacted me a lot.

I’ve now realised that my previous complaints are insubstantial because there are people with a lot less that are still happy and proud of what they do have.

As a result of this experience, what would you say is next up on your list of possibilities?

As a result of this experience, I want to be more actively involved in community service and assist the community that helped to shape me as a young man.

I also want to travel with BOM again and I’m especially looking forward to returning to Malawi.

Name: Dean Simmons, 17

Three words to describe yourself: Motivated, Hard-working, Introverted

Three words to describe your experience in Malawi: Life-changing, Gratifying, Humbling

What were your expectations if any, leading to the trip?

I had expectations to witness a new level of poverty in a different country. It was eye-opening and shocking to see the amount of people and the actual level of poverty in person.

What was most memorable or eye-opening?

I connected with lots of the children in the village. They all gravitated towards me.

The hardest part of this experience was not sharing our food with the children and the families due to Habitat of Humanity’s policy.

I remember giving one chip to a child. I then watched him take that chip and take it to all his friends and share that chip into 25 little pieces.

They have nothing, and yet they still feel the need to share with each other.

It’s something I will never forget and will take with me for the rest of my life. People in the West can learn so many things from Malawi.

How has this trip impacted you?

This trip really showed me that it’s a much bigger world than our small island.

It showed me my privileges in life, showed me how often we as Bermudians complain, cry and get upset about small things that don’t matter when we have an abundance of everything. We complain about things that someone in another country would give their life for.

I plan on being more mindful, open and ambitious to reach my full potential.

As a result of this experience, what would you say is next up on your list of possibilities?

I would say next on my list is to follow my passion and start building my own house, whilst taking care of those who are close to me, and my community.

Name: Lejae Nisbett, 17

Three words to describe yourself: Funny, Observant, Big-hearted

Three words to describe your experience in Malawi: Eye-opening, Great, Life-changing

What were your expectations, if any, leading up to the trip?

Leading up to the trip, I didn’t really expect anything besides building houses and having fun doing activities, whilst building bridges with the people I’d meet.

It wasn’t until I witnessed the children running after our bus on the first day, that I realised how excited they were to see us.

Then everything was put into perspective of the amazing journey this trip was about to provide for me.

What was the most memorable or eye-opening?

Stepping off the bus and seeing the people of the village smiling was my most memorable moment.

One day at the lunch site, I watched a little child with one potato chip share it among 5 other children and they were happy with that.

They have so little and yet they are willing to share what little they have.

How would you say the trip has impacted you?

I now recognise that we have so much and yet still take our privilege for granted.

After witnessing it first hand, I now know what my mother means when she says to not throw away food because there are so many other children that don’t have enough food. The villagers would only eat one meal a day at 3pm every afternoon, and in the West we have the luxury of eating whatever and whenever we want.

As a result of this experience, what would you say is next up on your list of possibilities?

I hope to be included on the next trip because I have quickly grown to love helping those less fortunate than me.

While I enjoy modern conveniences, things are much harder for others around the world.

Name: Tajae Hawker, 18

Three words to describe yourself: Loyal, Outgoing, Adventurous

Three words to describe your experience in Malawi: Life-changing, Eye-opening, Self-Reflective

What were your expectations, if any, leading up to the trip?

My expectations leading up to the trip were that I would create bonds with the Malawians and meet new friends among our contingent.

What was the most memorable or eye-opening?

Although everything was eye-opening and worth experiencing, I would say that having one-on-one conversations with new and old friends about things I never thought I’d be open to express helped my healing process.

Also, giving other people the comfort of expressing their raw feelings and emotions to me, as a result of what they were witnessing.

I met some amazing people on this trip that I know I’ll hold dearly to my heart for ever.

How would you say the trip impacted you?

This experience greatly impacted the way I see things. I don’t find myself worrying over small problems in my life.

Instead, I focus that energy on the bigger picture and bigger issues within myself and the world.

As a result of this experience, what would you say is next up on your list of possibilities?

I definitely see myself joining another Bermuda Overseas Missions trip. As helping those in need is my new-found passion.

Name: Zaire Williams, 16

Three words to describe yourself: Outgoing, Hard-working, Committed

Three words to describe your experience in Malawi: Mind-blowing, Eye-opening, Unforgettable

What were your expectations, if any, leading up to the trip?

My expectations were that we were just going to build houses all day and retreat to the hotel.

I didn’t think that we would be greeted by the villagers the way we did. They were so energetic and happy to see us.

What was the most memorable or eye-opening?

The most memorable thing for me was when we had a ceremony that really allowed us to see the culture of the country.

How would you say the trip impacted you?

The trip impacted me because we got to see and hear how the people survive each day, it truly touched me. We are fortunate people as we have all that we need and want.

But seeing how much happier they were compared to us having barely anything, definitely puts things into perspective for me.

Darren Woods is the youth outreach and prevention manager on the Gang Violence Reduction Team at the Ministry of National Security

You must be registered or signed-in to post comment or to vote.

Published Sep 12, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 12, 2019 at 8:10 am)

Our trip of a lifetime to Malawi

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon

  • Take Our Poll

    • "Which of these is the worst political gaffe of modern times"
    • Craig Cannonier getting on that plane
    • 11%
    • Michael Fahy pressing on with Pathways to Status
    • 10%
    • Bob Richards's 'Money doesn't grow on trees' speech
    • 5%
    • Lt-Col David Burch and ATVs
    • 9%
    • Wayne Caines and the London cereal cafe
    • 44%
    • Zane DeSilva's mystery shopper cruise
    • 21%
    • Total Votes: 5373
    • Poll Archive

    Today's Obituaries

    eMoo Posts