This largely agricultural country is making huge strides to overcome decades of underdevelopment, corruption and HIV/AIDS.
Malawi is one of the world’s most affected countries by HIV/AIDS, with more than a million children orphaned by the disease. As a result, the country has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality rate.
In rural parts of the country, access to information about sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) is more limited than in the urban centres, placing young people more at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Volunteers with VSO promote youth empowerment in rural areas of Malawi through running peer education, awareness raising, and training sessions and work in schools and youth clubs.
Supporting health initiatives
Huge progress has been made in tackling HIV in Malawi in recent years.
The country is on track to achieve the 90-90-90 target by 2020 – meaning 90% of people with HIV know their status, 90% of those are accessing treatment and 90% of those treated have the HIV ‘virally suppressed’.
But despite this, 50% of new HIV infections affect 15 to 17-year-olds. Stigma around accessing treatment and a lack of information is one of the key reasons for this. We believe that this can change – quickly.
Volunteers with work on this in a variety of different ways. As a volunteer, you could be delivering 40 minute life skills lessons in school, or sessions in youth clubs on SRHR.
You might be involved with data collection and report writing to build on our research of the current situation as well as promoting the need for more sexual health information to a wider audience.
Living in Malawi
There are multiple project locations in Malawi, including Mzuzu, Ekwendeni, Rumphi, Salima, Dedza, Ntcheu and Zomba. All placements in Malawi see volunteers living with host families, usually with one other volunteer.
As with other placements, volunteers living with host families will be expected to eat like a local. As a nation of growers, Malawians rely on fresh produce. Meals are often rich in carbohydrates, with nsima, a maize porridge dish being a staple.
And it’s not just what happens on placement that counts. VSO ICS volunteers help with host home household chores and share experiences with community members who visit the host homes.