Martin Brown

My experience at Tilinanu was truly unforgettable. I’ve never experienced such genuine happiness than while teaching the girls in the orphanage music. Their endless kindness and energy was infectious. I’ve honestly never laughed as hard and often as I did throughout my time in Lilongwe.

I was only working in the Orphanage for 10 days, so my experience was only a brief plunge into African culture really. I’d always wanted to volunteer overseas but never had the funding or time to be able to until recently. I’m a musician by trade, and I was warned by my manager that come 2015 I wouldn’t have a block period longer than 2 weeks free for a long time – so coming out to Malawi was a fairly impulse decision before Christmas; and it was the best impulse decision I’ve ever made.

From the various travellers/volunteers/adventurers I met, they all agreed Malawi was one of the most peaceful and friendly cultures, certainly in Africa – maybe in the whole world. It was fairly mental going from Central London where eye contact is pretty much forbidden, to having strangers running to catch up with you on the street just to chat. The people are unbelievably grateful for the lives they lead, regardless of how affluent or poor they may appear to be.

So my job was to teach the girls music – primarily new songs. It was odd, as quite often songs I thought of as ‘happy’ had surprisingly sad undertones (which I realised when writing out lyric sheets for them all to read/take away and learn/practice), and I found myself re-writing some words to better suit their optimism and lust for life. There is something so magical about their voices; the sound of pure joy! It was a real pleasure teaching them more songs and helping them to express themselves through music.

I learnt a lot of things from my time in Malawi, but the most important was to learn to be happy every day.

I am so grateful to Alice and the LSU Foundation for gifting me the opportunity to ‘help out’, although it feels very much like the kids helped me.

I couldn’t recommend the experience enough. Go go go!

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