It’s Monday 19th November 2012 and ‘responsible’ news from Pumulani

Trust you are well. This week we will hear from Dr Cheryl Mvula, a Responsible Tourism consultant. She has just spent some time at Pumulani to help us enhance our responsible tourism policy here. Over to Cheryl…

”The views of Lake Malawi from my, oh so sumptious villa at Pumulani were to die for – really! Nothing had quite prepared me for the breathtaking, jaw dropping, beauty of the lake and its environs. The way guests’ villas have been designed here means they nestle into the hillside and blend in seamlessly with the natural vegetation of Lake Malawi National Park, making for a very sympathetic beach property in keeping with its surroundings. The living grass roof and natural ventilation that attracts the breeze off the lake through floor to ceiling sliding glass doors kept my villa cool, despite the November heat outside. A real bonus as I have not had to resort to the air con, keeping my carbon footprint to a minimum! Other subtle touchs such as locally-made handicrafts in my room and a towel re-use policy to reduce energy and water consumption all showed me that Pumulani was most certainly embracing important aspects of ‘responsible tourism’. All very pleasing, seeing as I was here to advise RPS on moving their responsible tourism agenda forward at Pumulani – a cracking start to my visit!

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Whilst here I have spent much of my time cycling around the three local fishing villages with Lukio – meeting with local Chiefs, schoolteachers and  villagers. Lukio, well known to Pumulani guests for his wonderful dhow trips and village visits, has been a real star. He has such a heart to see the community living alongside Pumulani, the community in which he was born and raised, uplift themselves out of poverty. He has made my job of opening people up to talk about the challenges of living on the shores of Lake Malawi so much easier. As many of you know, RPS has a well-developed and effective community development programme in Zambia, and they now wish to replicate the same success here in Malawi. And with their usual responsible approach they invited me as their responsible tourism consultant, and with my passion and experience working at the grass roots with local communities in Africa, to give them a helping hand in identifying the real development priorities in these villages.

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Lukio and I heard from the children and teachers at neighbouring Luwi Junior School, how school attendance could be boosted by a feeding programme – hunger makes it hard for these youngsters to concentrate on their lessons or they miss school in search of food. The idea of a Breakfast Club sponsored by RPS and my small African development charity the High Five Club was discussed – an idea that is as simple as it is effective. If each child at the school gets one decent meal a day attendance levels will soar and learning will improve, helping these children break out of the cycle of poverty so prevelent in rural areas of Africa. To provide each child with one bowl  of nutrious porridge a day, known locally as likuni phala, would cost just £10 per child a year! I feel sure that between us we can find a way to launch such an initiative at this school some day soon. More classrooms are also a priority – the school currently has just 2 classrooms and 650 pupils – imagine! More news on RPS’s plans to help uplift this school will in due course, as I don’t want to give too much away yet!

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What has touched me most about my visit to Pumulani this week is the sheer joy and happiness that I saw in every face at this small, rural school – a school with few material resources, books, desks, chairs – nothing! They have such a natural joie de vivre and are full of that indominatable African spirit that I see so often working in rural communities. How I wish I could bottle this up and take it back with me to mud island! Suffice to say that the Warm Heart of Malawi is most certainly alive and kicking on the shores of the lake around Pumulani – but don’t take my word for it! Visit yourself and experience it! ”

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Thanks Cheryl for sharing with us your experience at Pumulani. Read a bit more on our Responsible Tourism policy and initiatives on our website.

Have a great week!

Emily

Pumulani

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