Giving something back

Clothing for sale Malawi by Malawi TourismBuying local is an excellent way to travel positively in Malawi © Malawi Tourism,

Throughout Malawi you’ll encounter charities and community projects which engage local people and visitors to promote literacy, the environment, wildlife protection and health projects. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer, with time periods ranging from an afternoon helping with some tree planting to yearlong placements. For some such projects you’ll be expected to fundraise or pay in advance of your trip.

If you’d like to donate school or medical materials, bear in mind that Malawian stationers and pharmacies are well stocked, and you support the economy in the country by buying locally.

Travelling responsibly

Kate Webb, Responsible Safari Company

When visiting any destination we should all be looking to travel more responsibly and visiting local communities is one way you can do this. Malawians are renowned for their warm welcome, and with tourism still in its infancy it remains very easy to head off the tourist trail and experience rural Africa.

The Responsible Safari Company offers ecotourism day visits in Blantyre, Thyolo, Mulanje, Zomba, Mangochi and Cape Maclear to ensure the benefits of tourism reach local communities in these areas. These visits offer the chance to interact with local Malawians, learn more about rural village life, cook Malawian food and join in some traditional dancing! Visits can range from 1 hour to overnight stays and longer skilled volunteer placements can also be arranged.

When visiting any local community, keep these guidelines in mind to ensure your visit makes a positive impact:

• Do make time to visit local communities. These experiences are often the most memorable of your time in Malawi.

• Don’t hand out money direct to the community; this causes problems between community members and encourages a begging culture.

• Do support local sustainable organisations, to ensure your benefit is shared by the whole community.

• Don’t hand out sweets. Dental healthcare is not accessible for most people in Malawi.

• Do donate locally bought resources – pens, papers, books, etc – to local schools and projects.

• Don’t take photographs without asking. Do email or send your pictures back to the community when you return home.

• Do learn a few words of Chichewa, a smile and a local greeting will make you friends very quickly!

• Do respect local customs by wearing conservative clothing when visiting local communities.

• Do buy locally made handicrafts as this helps to support the local economy.

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