The Republic of Malawi is known as Africa's 'warm heart'. Not as well known as its larger neighbours Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia, the small nation with a population of over 13 million may be poor in the economic sense, but is rich in other ways.
Its geography is made of up pockets of rainforest, evergreen forests, wetlands and grassy lowlands. It is mountainous in parts, dry and flat in others so there are many activities for visitors.
The enormous Lake Malawi (formerly Lake Nyasa) is Africa's third largest and covers almost a fifth of the country. It shares itself between the three neighbouring countries. Measuring 30,040 square kilometres, the lake is bounded by steep mountains, except to its south. It is perfect for diving, boating and transporting goods and people.
Between 1951-53, Britain combined Nyasaland with the colonies of Northern and Southern Rhodesia now Zambia and Zimbabwe to form a federation. In 1964 Nyasaland became the independent nation of Malawi, and two years later became a Republic.
Sadly life expectancy is just 37 years. Its increasing population faces great challenges. HIV/AIDS is a huge factor, along with limited natural resources, high levels of inequality, poor resources management and recurrent droughts.
Most Malawians live in rural areas with extremely limited access to proper health care. Apart from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the nation's crumbling economy, poor education and lack of safe water contribute greatly to the high mortality rate. Just 133 children survive for every 1000 births. Maize, the country's staple food crop, is forever being eradicated by drought.
Visions of children with distended bellies and huge, pleading brown eyes, and most likely orphaned, are all too familiar to those of us more fortunate. The African definition of an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents. One million of Malawai's children are orphans, half due to HIV/AIDS.
Many people derive great pleasure and comfort sponsoring these children and having the opportunity to give them a chance in life. World Vision gives the opportunity of sponsoring children in Malawi and many other impoverished countries.
Getaway reporter Jules Lund sponsors eight-year-old Cosmas through World Vision. Their first Malawi project was in 1975, providing medical treatment and care to 40 children in a residential school. Now World Vision runs around 40 Area Development Programs (ADP) in the country, benefiting more than a million people.
Jules was delighted at the prospect of meeting Cosmas and his family in their village. World Vision is building kraals for farmers in Malawi and is helping stem disease among boar goats. With their invaluable input, livestock, bees, fish farming and successful cassava and sweet potato crops are on the increase.
Jules met Cosmas at his school in the company of a World Vision guide. There are strict guidelines, but the meeting was very emotional and joyous. The whole village turned out for the occasion, and Jules' gift of a soccer ball was a great hit. Not only do contributions through World Vision assist a child, they help families and whole communities. It's certainly a win-win situation.
A school feeding program Jules visited provides 144 students with morning porridge for too many of them it is their only meal of the day.
Jules learnt that school is a small part of Cosmas' daily life he helps his dad in the fields. He is a sustenance farmer and grows food crops, which Cosmas gathers and takes to his mother to prepare family meals.
Jules' tour of the country was with Kumuka Worldwide. Their trips are in three styles overland expeditions, local and private transport tours and coach tours.
All overland expeditions are in their traditional blue trucks which take a maximum of 24 passengers. They combine camping and/or hotel accommodation. There may be sections which are physically demanding, but are suitable for almost everyone with an appetite for adventure.
The blue trucks are equipped with everything you will need large water tank, long range fuel tanks, cool box, cooking gear, tents and camping equipment and stereo. They like to take their guest off the well-trodden tourist routes and visit remote locations.
A highlight of the trip was a stop at Kande Beach Campsite, midway along the west coast of Lake Malawi. The local chief has given permission for visitors to stay and Kande is a very relaxed and sociable place to stay. There are catamarans, canoes, windsurfers, pedal boats and snorkelling equipment for hire and a large bar and kiosk which sells food. Cooking utensils and firewood are free of charge. For those not wanting to camp, there are dormitories and bandas.
A landlocked country in Africa's southeast.
Kumuka Worldwide has a 22 day East Africa Express tour from Zimbabwe including a visit to Malawi. Prices start at $1735 per person for all activities, transport, entry fees, sightseeing, meals and taxes.
South African Airways has return flights to Lilongwe, Malawi's capital. Prices are valid for sale and travel until November 30, 2006. All taxes are included.
- Perth, $2761
- Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, $3009
- Darwin, $3311
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.
For further information
Level 4, 46-48 York Street
Ph: 1300 667 277 or (02) 9279 0491
Fax: (02) 9279 0492
World Vision Australia
1 Vision Drive
Burwood East 3151
Ph: 133 240
Click here for more
By sponsoring a child, you will help to bring about long-term changes to the child, their family and community for just $39 a month. Your support will help to fund vital development work in the child's community, such as digging wells, improving sanitation and building health clinics. This work ensures that the community will be able to provide the children with the basics they need, which helps them to grow up in a healthy environment and have the chance for a better future.