***I’m going to try and make this post factual, rather than emotionally led…there will be plenty of time for emotional outpours about how travel like this changes your life, how grateful I am for the opportunity, for what I have in my life in the UK, how I’m on a one-woman mission to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ and much more…!***
My first day in country was spent with the The Responsible Safari Company team at their beautiful headquarters in Blantyre capturing some beautiful personal branding imagery and headshots for them, delivering a training course on branding, the importance of social media and a basic guide to travel photography. I had no idea what an incredible welcome I would get and neither did I anticipate how much part of ‘the team’ they would make me feel. I have such fond memories of my days at The Travel Barn hanging out with ‘the crew’ and will always be grateful to them for making my first few days of ‘country adjustment’ so easy.
As well as images of their trips, my photography brief from Kate and Dom included building a stock library of in-country images showcasing the beautiful Malawian countryside as well as the people. So the very next day Ozzie, their guide and I, set off on our grand adventure!
A week flew by as I travelled with this incredibly knowledgeable, gentle Malawian man throughout the south of Malawi, capturing the beauty of the countryside and it’s wonderful people as I went. The days weren’t without their challenges, after all TIA (This Is Africa), but the challenges make the solutions even more wonderful and I was captivated once again by the spellbinding beauty of the country and it’s people.
10 days later the group of Women Entrepreneurs arrived and Adventure No 2 started!
These business women had come from all round the world to be inspired, create new partnerships, share their skills and understand more about the key role of women in Malawi. We spent a day meeting female entrepreneurs from across Malawi in a seminar event in Blantyre highlighting the challenges and successes of women in business and a day visiting a business start-up hub in the area. Next stop saw us at a home stay, spending 24 hrs with a family taking part in daily village life and learning more about the power of micro loans and banking at the community level. A night under canvas on a wildlife safari came before we headed to the shores of Lake Malawi to spend two days working with a local youth group, mentoring secondary school students and learning more about the challenges facing young people in Malawi today.
The trip flew by and before I knew it, I was waving goodbye to some wonderful ladies knowing that I had not only documented every part of their trip but had also, as a bonus, made some lifelong friends.
Next stop….The Orbis Challenge! Sport with a Purpose is an incredible vision, the brainchild of Kate and Dom. It’s a new campaign aimed at raising awareness of key organisations working towards improving nutrition in Malawi – this year raising money for the inspiring Street Chef project. Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes, joined by the British High Commissioner and 20 teammates to take on the ultimate Malawi Challenge!
In just a week the team ran 25km up and down Mulanje Mountain, cycled 47km across the Zomba Plateau, and kayaked 20km around Lake Malawi…oh and managed to fit in a community fun run, a safari day, several community cause visits and an afternoon at a secondary school!
The trip rightfully gained some great exposure internationally and in-country with our behind the scenes crew consisting of the BBC, an in-country photographer, videographer and several reporters. To hop onto the support bus every morning and call myself part of this incredible team of creatives, all working towards documenting for a greater purpose, was an absolute honour.
I feel beyond blessed to have spent so much time working for such an incredible company, meeting some fabulous business women, documenting the journey of hugely talented athletes, finding out more about the British High Commissioners work and getting to know Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes, who quite frankly is one of the most inspirational (and nicest) people I have ever met.