Livingstone Volunteers 2014.
Picture: Alexander Myburgh (left), Elspeth Murdoch (David Livingstone’s great granddaughter) (center) and Ishbel Murdoch (David Livingstone’s great, great granddaughter) (right). Courtesy of Stuart McAllister.
MALAWI LEADERS 2014
Hello, My name is Catherine MacDonald, I am the chief leader for this expedition. I am currently a 3rd PhD student in Aberdeen (a.k.a. the north pole).
I am studying gut immunology so the interaction of the bacteria within the gut and the impact on inflammatory diseases IBD and MS. I was a venture on the Vietnam trip in 2005, a leader on the Chile trip in 2010 and have come back as chief leader for Malawi 2014.
I love travelling, and the BEG trips have made a huge impact on my life, so I hope that this trip will do the same for both the venturers and leaders. The reason I chose Malawi as a destination, is I love Africa, having been to Gambia, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa I am itching to get back.
The reason for Malawi in particular is my parents worked there as doctor and nurse prior to having children; I was very almost born there in fact. We have grown up hearing stories about their time in Malawi and what better way to visit it for ourselves than through a BEG trip.
Malawi is my 3rd expedition with BEG. Other trips I have done include climbing Kilimanjaro through university. I have a degree in sports coaching and am looking to go into teaching. My main hobby is playing rugby but also I also coach in my spare time mainly through Active Schools. BEG expedition, the previous 2 being Chile (2010) as a venturer and Ukraine (2011) as a leader.
Hi, My name is Louise MacDonald. I am one of the Borders Exploration Groups Leaders for Malawi 2014. I'm originally from Hawick but now live in Dundee where I did my nurses training and have just qualified as a nurse. One of my main interests is travelling because I love meeting new people from different countries and communities. I'm looking forward to Malawi to learn all about the culture and way of life and passing on some of our Scottish culture and traditions.
Nicholas Anderson (aka Bruff)
Hello everyone my name is Nicholas Anderson but preferred to be called Bruff. I live in Hawick and also work within the town too as a Scarf Manufacturer at The Scarf Company. I also work as a Youth Leader at Escape Youth Cafe again in Hawick and work with young people from the ages of 12-18. My main interests are football, mountain biking and supporting the mighty Arsenal FC.
Malawi 2014 will be my first BEG expedition although I have been involved with BEG committee for several years. I also have two children who were fortunate enough to be selected for the Poland and Ukraine expeditions. I am really looking forward to supporting the Malawi 2014 expedition and to getting to know all the leaders and venturers a bit better... Happy days ahead!
Stuart Davies (Monkeyboy)
Born and bred in the Scouselands of Liverpool but migrated north to the land of wee haggis creatures and Kilts. I am currently an NQT of Physical Education in the sunny borders town of Jedburgh.I’m and outdoor pursuit and sports mad person and always up for a physical challenge no matter how silly or crazy it might be.
Random fact: I ran the height of Everest with a bunch of like-minded nutters last year to raise money for cancer research.
Favourite sport: Rugby.
Favourite hobby: Cooking and eating.
Favourite Cheese: Has to be a bit of Gorgonzola.
Favourite Film: Ace Ventura - When Nature Calls.
I am constantly told I’m an easy-going big kid and I am always up for a laugh. I am really looking forward to getting stuck into the whole BEG experience and obviously getting to go to Malawi next summer with what will be an amazing team.
I am a former venturer and leader with BEG, having been to Peru in 2003 as a venturer and Norway in 2006 as a leader. Going to Peru was a life changing experience for me - as well as meeting some of my best friends, it gave me a totally different outlook and encouraged me to be adventurous, to travel and to make the most of opportunities.
This I think I have done, having travelled independently frequently over the past ten years, most notable for this expedition including a three month trip to Malawi in 2005 to carry out a scientific research project. I am really excited to be part of the Malawi leader team. As well as being an amazing chance to visit Malawi again, it is great to be involved in a trip that gives others the same opportunities that I had in going to Peru.
Outside BEG, I am a chartered accountant and work as Head of Finance at Penumbra, a mental health charity based throughout Scotland. I enjoy running, cycling and reading in my spare time.
I’m a Scottish Borders girl living in the Auld Grey Toon of Hawick and ‘fun’ is my middle name (not really, it’s Elizabeth, but that name does nothing to describe my attitude and sensibilities)! In my every day life, my time is split between working as a Nursery Nurse at Drumlanrig School and carrying out the role of Specialist Youth Development Worker within Rowland’s in Selkirk.
In my free time, however, I am an adventure seeking adrenaline addict, always looking for a new challenge. My exploits include skydiving, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, bungee jumping and flying an airplane – those are only a few of the things I have been able to score of my “bucket list” so far!
Travel is one of my great passions, as I enjoy being immersed in new culture, meeting new people and experiencing the beauty of foreign destinations.
I am thrilled to be part of the ‘Malawi Team’ (which is gonna rock!) but there is one helpful hint I will share with you all: if I seem grumpy, simply feed me, because hunger is the only thing that can make me “crabbit”!
My name is Patricia. I'm from Spain and I moved to Edinburgh in 2005 to learn some English and I loved the weather so much that decided to stay! I work as a Spanish teacher at Edinburgh University and as a freelance photographer in my spare time.
When I was in Spain I was involved with the Red Cross in leading extracurricular clubs and with Oxfam. I have been involved with BEG since 2009 helping around whenever possible.
I like scuba diving, climbing and hill-walking. I love cinema, I am an avid reader and a keen traveller. I love dressing up, as you can see from my profile picture (Frida Kalho)!
Hi I’m Lorraine Sinclair and I was a late recruit to the BEG Malawi Leader Team. This is my first trip with BEG and I have to say I have never worked with such a great but mad bunch before. I was brought up in Oxfordshire, however moved to Edinburgh as a young adult. For the past 25 years have lived in the Borders.
I am a Primary School Learning Support Teacher, as well as working with Autistic children - it helps to be slightly mad to do both jobs! My now grown up children thought I was a crazy mother! (I became cool when I got a motorcycle!). I love any sort of exercise especially going on long walks with my dog, and trying new adventures. My other passion is food - both cooking and eating it! I help fundraise as part of Borders Barmy Army.
Hello, I'm Ewan Colquhoun (also know as Skippy). I grew up in Australia and have been in Scotland since 2007. I have always been an outdoors sort of guy, whether that is playing cricket all day every day or hiking through the Grampians (Australia!) and the Highlands.
I'm an airline pilot based in Edinburgh which gives me many opportunities to travel throughout Europe mainly. Malawi will be my first expedition with BEG and I can't wait to take part in such a trip with a tremendously talented and fun bunch of guys and girls.
Hi, my name is Cheryl Brydon. I am a Primary teacher from Hawick. Currently working in Hawick and Selkirk.
I got involved with The Borders Exploration Group because I am passionate about travel and I love being part of a team. Africa is one of those places that I have always wanted to visit, it pulls me like a magnet. I have been lucky enough to visit South Africa and Kenya before and absolutely loved both experiences. I am excited to travel to Malawi but most of all I am excited to be involved in a project with such a large group so that we can come home knowing that we have made a difference to the lives of the community we visit.
Hi Folks I’m Bronwen. I’m a mum of three. Two sons, Connor (23) Blair (21) and a daughter Moray (16) and I’ve been married to Keith for 28 years. I live in Hawick and have done it all my life.
I work with children who have social, emotional and behavioural problems at the Wilton centre and have been there for 13 years.
I enjoy walking, baking, taking photographs (lots of them), listening to music; I’m a bit obsessive with cleaning and tidying and love a good film.
I’m really looking forward to this huge, exciting, challenging and rewarding adventure.
Been with BEG since 1993. Have been with BEG to Kenya, Peru, Chile, Cuba, Norway, Poland and Ukraine. Have been on most of the training teams for the others that I have not been on. Teach Geography at Selkirk High School. Enjoy hillwalking, fishing and skiing. A member of Hawick Rotary Club.
I work in Edinburgh for a homelessness charity, Bethany Christian Trust, and like to spend my free time in the outdoors - hiking, camping, on the beach, travelling or skiing. I went to Romania with BEG in 2002 as a venturer, was a leader for Ukraine 2011 and then co-chief leader for the expedition to Cuba the following year. I feel privileged to have got to know the Malawi Team - a great group of people - I love attending the training weekends and helping them get ready for what is shaping up to be a great 3 weeks in Malawi.
I’m Robert Sinclair (yes, married to Lorraine, one of the Leaders). I am a recent addition to the training team and am looking forward to getting involved in BEG activities. I was born in Glasgow and then moved to the Borders about 24 years ago. I have been a chef for many years, working in hotels and restaurants, however I now work as a Catering Manager for St Mary’s School. As well as cooking for the children, I give the children cooking lessons and cook with the Boarders one night a week.
I love walking - having walked the West Highland Way a few times and completed the 3 peaks challenge. I have recently come back from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as part of Borders Barmy Army fundraising challenge. I can often be seen on a treadmill in supermarkets raising money with the Barmy Army!
BEG Malawi fundraisers
This was our first fundraiser, and when we first all met as a team. After picking up all the litter we could find that was left behind after the Selkirk Common Riding and refilling on delicious home baking, sweets, tea & coffee, we all gathered together to do some getting to know each other activities.
We also chose the final logo that will be embroidered in the Malawi t-shirts and that some venturers designed. We had some talks about BEG and what we should expect from the whole adventure, both training weekends and fundraising and the trip to Malawi. It is hard to believe that that was almost 10 moths ago.
Dog show in Kelso
The Malawi team was given the opportunity to earn some group funds by helping at a dog show in Kelso - picking up knocked over jumps, dropped leads and general support to the organisers. This was the first group fundraiser and the first chance to start to get to know each other a little bit. It was a two day event, some of the team attended both days which was an epic effort as the weather was really not good - waterproofs were the order of the day... especially on the Sunday. The dogs didn't seem to be in the slightest bit bothered about the weather though, they were awesome; so well trained...!
Our first big BEG fundraiser was a nerve wracking experience but boy did our venturers do us all so proud. They showed a great sense of teamwork from the word go by serving our guests and supporters a lovely spread of goodies and kept them topped up with beverages too. Not only that but they also were able to be the entertainment, we are lucky to have some musically amazing and talented youngster on board showing of their instrumental and singing abilities. We were very lucky to have a Malawian singer, Brave Mnyayi there to get the crowd onto their feet singing and dancing along to his beat. Great fun!
Erdols Fish Bar
Mr Erdal Orak very kindly agreed to donate all his organisations takings from his Fish Bar, in Hawick over a Friday and Saturday to the BEG group funds. Both leaders and venturers wrapped up warm and took to standing in the doorway with our charity boxes to help advertise this act of kindness. We made a whopping £574.54 so huge thank you.
Galashiels Race night
We organised a fantastic race night in Galashiels with lots of betting, some drinking and a fantastic raffle full of prizes.
Our fancy fundraiser started when all our guests appeared dressed in their best robes and attire. We had lots of frantic ceilidh dancing in the Town Hall. Robert cooked amazing stovies to keep us going and Patricia had a photo booth set up to capture some of the memorabilia and costumes from an amazing night. Once more Coopers Bar sorted out our bar.
Dancing through the decades in Kelso
Our most recent fundraiser, we went to Kelso Royal British Legion with our dance shoes on to dance to the cheesy beats of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. We had an air guitar contest and a fab raffle while we laughed at each other’s crazy moves on the dance floor.
BEG Malawi training weekends
During our first training weekend at St Mary's Loch we were privileged to have Keith Irving a mountain bike instructor give us all a skills session on the Saturday. The weather was very kind to us as we finished the skills loop and went on to cycle round the Loch. In total we cycled about 11miles that day. Good effort by all.
Afterwards we did some canoeing on the lake in small groups and had fun paddling around in the water.
We woke up on the Sunday morning and the first thing that we saw was pine needles to the left of our faces. We gathered ourselves and remembered our team had just spent our first night bivying out!! Wow what an amazing experience!! Its amazing what you can create with some string and some tarpoling.
We quickly dismantled our make shift sleeping areas and moved to the breakfast area and cooked some porridge before cleaning up and trekking back to Cappercleuch on the other side of St Marys loch.
The weather was good to us this weekend and when back at Cappercleuch John Mcdonald gave us a talk on a number of interesting things about Malawi.
We finished with highs and lows and headed home a little tired but full of excitement after what proved to be a tremendous 1st training weekend.
Training weekend two started in Yetholm. We all knew this was to be a walking weekend so everyone arrived with a certain amount of trepidation, particularly given the weather forecast for the worst storm in years! Luckily the shelter provided at the village hall was more than a match for the wind and rain, and we had an enjoyable evening doing fitness (a bit of a theme was developing for Friday nights and the Malawi group…) and learning about base camps.
On Saturday, amazingly we awoke to a bright sunny day and set off in groups to walk along the St Cuthbert’s way, filling our time with picking up rubbish, learning some Chichewa and spotting animals (amongst the sheep and cows we also saw lions, crocodiles and wildebeest which apparently are also native to the Cheviots).
We arrived late afternoon at Caverton Mill Farm where we found that the plans for camping had been abandoned due to a waterlogged field and even increasing wind speeds. Instead after a camp fire which had to be extinguished due to spark fears, we settled down on the floor of a shed for a well-earned nights rest, luckily largely undisturbed by the rats which we could hear scuttling around.
On Sunday we continued to Morebottle and walked a bit more, but it was all easy-peasy after our hard Saturday walk.
Training Weekend 3 brought us to our halfway point through our training. It took place in Gavinton where we provided many hands for the tidying up and landscaping of a nature walk.
This included building steps, clearing and building up footpaths to give us some practice of community work before our trip.
At dinnertime, to give some more responsibility to the venturers they were set a cooking challenge to create a meal from basic ingredients and some luxury items. There were some fantastic creations from fajita wraps to paella and stews.
For our last night, as this training weekend took place not long before Christmas we put on our Christmas jumpers and had some christmassy fun with Christmas games and music.
The fourth training weekend began a little later on the Saturday morning, but managed to still get huge amounts crammed into 2 days. The fitness games were great fun on the Saturday morning, few skinned knees with over enthusiasm for this but it was an excellent activity for bringing out the team spirit!
Then the venturers did an INCREDIBLE job with their task, the decorations, speeches, dancing, performances, organisation, leading of the evening and the meal itself were amazing. The 'special guests' were hugely impressed, and all leaders were incredibly proud of the evening entirely organised by the venturers.
They all got stuck in and it showed what they can achieve. The emergency evacuation on the Sunday morning was very well carried out by all, and on the Sunday the games and updates were a great way to finish of the weekend.
Our fifth training weekend started in Liliesleaf Hall but we spent most of it at Riddell estate.
On Friday we had a fantastic time with some talks about Malawi and what to expect when we get out there for our community phase. We got the low-down on leprosy: what it is and how it affects people. It quashed and clarified a lot of myths and was really interesting. Thanks again! We now have a better idea of what we should expect to encounter when we are at Utale.
On Saturday we left the hall in teams and reached Riddle Estate to set up our base camp.
The base camp looked amazing and after construction we all collapsed for a well-deserved lunch in our lunch tent, but as we were deciding our next steps, the big tent was caught by a huge gust of wind and flew across the field. With the camp now in a state of disarray we were forced to change out plans.
After a mighty rescue that included some tent fishing in the river, we dismantled the base camp. In the afternoon we did several jobs around the estate that included wall painting, bridge building, wall pointing and cement mixing, weeding and setting Kieran’s amazing Malawi stone into the wall of fame :).
That evening we had a typical Malawian dinner while our Malawian witch (Julie) whisked us off in small groups to abseil from the top of Riddell Tower!
Our 6th training weekend was in Philiphaugh Estate at Selkirk. On the Friday the leaders arrived a bit earlier to set up a mock emergency scenario. Geraldine put together a bunch of pretty gruesome wounds for the “casualties”.
The drama started with a loud bang and a lot of smoke but the venturers took excellent care of us. We were fairly lucky with the weather and so finally after one failed previous attempt (see TW 5) we finally managed to set up camp and spent the night in tents.
On Saturday we did some community work in the estate. We painted a water wheel from a mill with very thick black paint after scraping off layers of bird poo.
We planted some daffodils, made a walking path with wood chips and cut some dead branches to make some parts of the forest more accessible.
In the afternoon, after a filling lunch in our base camp, we played some fun sports spurred on by Nick: football and rounders.
In the evening we had hare stew and after that made a bonfire, ate some apples and bananas with Mars bars and marshmallows and sang some of our repertoire for Malawi.
On Sunday we did the Selkirk clearance. It was hard to believe that one year ago we had just met and were starting our training to go, and now... Malawi here we go!
MALAWI 2014. 1st of July to 22nd of July 2014
Here you have some of our pictures from Malawi. As you can see and probably heard, the adventure was amazing - a life changing experience.
Preparing the base to mix cement in Utale
Building screens for the toilets in Nankhwali
Biking in Kuti
Looking forward to the report day!
Malawi 2014 Venturers
I would like to start out by saying a massive thank you to everyone who made this trip possible! For all your continued support and your generosity. Your kindness helped 41 volunteers get to Malawi to make a difference.
The expedition started in Kuti, a reservation park that’s linked with an education centre just outside Lilongwe. Various jobs were carried out here, making fire bricks from recycled materials, erecting a monkey enclosure, painting tired buildings, hoeing fire breaks to stop poachers burning down more than one section of the park, these are only a few of the jobs we did. Then we went onto Nankhwali, what a wonderful reception, children singing and dancing, so delighted to see us. We worked closely with the youth group of Nankhwali in the villages to construct new grass partitions for the old, blind and disabled people. We witnessed how poor the facilities were in the nursery and what little toys the children had to play with. The skills of the team were on point and painted the alphabet and animals on the walls to cheer the room up. Gifts of toys were left too. In the evenings we exchanged cultures with singing, dancing and playing musical instruments.
We visited Lake Malawi, (paradise) as we travelled to the next community phase in Utale with the leprosy community. Our first large gathering with the villagers was a church service. The choir sang like a chorus of angels, truly amazing! After mass we went to the Leprosy Village to meet the chief and his people. The people of the village were so welcoming and very happy to see us. The work in this village was building two new long drops (toilets) and irrigation. Team Malawi 2014 had raised money to pay for all materials and builders. Thomas the Malawian builder, project managed us and carried on the unfinished work when we left. One long drop almost finished and the majority of the second completed. Irrigation work meant we had to loosen up the solid soil that encased the roots of the vegetables, thus allowing the water to soak in much easier.
Our trip finished with a climb up Mount Mulanje, what an amazing experience, pretty awesome but hard 3 day trek!
Overall the trip to Malawi was very humbling, awe-inspiring, rewarding and exciting, highs and lows with memories that will never fade.
Thank you Malawi for allowing us to visit and do a little for you!
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.(Epictetus)
this little quote is so true of the beautiful Malawian people.