MLOL Heart

Fiona Ross, Senior Communications Officer, Glasgow City Council

Sep 21,2022 MLOL Blogs

New to the MLOL family - Dale Henderson, PT at Cleeves Primary school posts his first MLOL blog...

Friday to Monday

I have been an admirer of the work of MLOL since joining Glasgow City Council and always thought that the experience and the work that goes on within the charity looked incredible. So when I saw a post on the charity’s Facebook page suggesting they may be looking for new participants I jumped at the opportunity. Since then everything has fallen in to place so quickly and before I knew it I was packed and ready to head off to Malawi…


On Friday morning I woke excited for the journey ahead. I headed to Glasgow airport to join Shannon, Laura and Katy to begin our long journey (not taking much notice of the news about French air traffic control strikes playing on the taxi radio). Our first flight went smoothly and we arrived in London positive and enthusiastic. We had a long time between our flights as we were worried about anything going wrong at this stage so agreed to store our suitcases at the train station and take a trip to Nottinghill to see some sites and grab a bite to eat. This was a great opportunity for the team to start to get to know each other properly. A major worry about taking part was not  knowing anyone very well but that soon faded as I realised what a great bunch of people I was fortunate enough to be travelling with. Even if this bonding was mainly centred around a questionable choice of eatery…


Soon it was time to head to Heathrow for the major part of our journey, London to South Africa. Here we were joined by Elizabeth and so far things seemed to be going well… We posed with our enthusiastic faces and our MLOL branded jumpers and were ready to get going. After boarding the flight the captain informed us that due to French air traffic control strikes, our flight would be an hour longer than expected… at this point we started to worry as we only had about 2 hours to transfer to our next flights. Things got worse as the pilot then announced that because of these delays we would also be later taking off. We tried not to panic but it was clear that everyone was worried that this could mess up the road of our onward journey. The 12 hour flight passed quickly as I made my way through the selection of movies and felt excited about what awaited us in Malawi. 


As we landed in South Africa we all quickly checked the time and wondered, will we make it? We remained positive until the end but once we were in the security queue we agreed that there was no way we were making it now. We all frantically tried to find alternatives whilst we queued and once we had our cases and were through to the other side we went straight to the Virgin Atlantic help desk. The term “help desk” is perhaps debatable and we were very confused as to where we stood for a long time. We did discover that the next direct flight to Blantyre was on Wednesday… Far from ideal! After many hours, many conversations and many emails we managed to secure a hotel room for the night and booked alternative flights to travel on Sunday evening. This was a major set back for the whole team as we were so keen to arrive, get organised and get started. On reflection now it was probably the best decision as it meant we could all get a much needed rest (and much needed wash) before proceeding with our journey. 


We made the most of our stop over and arranged to join a bus tour around Johannesburg to experience as much as could in the short time that we had. Such an interesting city with a colourful history that they are very open about and have a poignant mantra of “if we cannot forgive then we have no future”. We also learned that in South Africa when someone says they will do something ‘just now’ it really means any time in the future or even not at all in some cases. This resinated with us all after our communications with Johannesburg Airport ground team!


After another laughter filled day with the team we were back in an airport (for the third day in a row) awaiting our third flight. Whilst onboard the flight we realised that we were actually flying 5 and a half hours North to Ethiopia (flying over Malawi) to wait for three hours and then take a four and a half hour journey south to Malawi… certainly not the easiest of routes! And something that our colleagues and Malawi find most entertaining (and ridiculous!). 


HOWEVER, a mere 75 hours after leaving home we landed in Malawi and the stress of the journey was quickly forgotten. We were given the most warm welcome at the airport and met with our driver to head to Kabila Lodge, our home for the rest of the week. On arrival I was pleasantly surprised! I had been preparing for the worst and this certainly wasn’t it so I was very pleased. Our warm welcoming committee soon joined us at Kabula Lodge as we began to plan what we hoped we would all get out of our trip and what our common aims are for going forward. After this meeting we began to organise and prepare the materials for the training for the day ahead. There are not many settings that preparing these materials would be enjoyable but being in Kabula Lodge overlooking the mountain views with a great bunch of people; it doesn’t get much better!


Once we were organised with the resources that we needed and had a clear idea of our intentions for the week ahead we decided it was time for bed…

MLOL Heart
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A mere 75 hours after leaving home we landed in Malawi and the stress of the journey was quickly forgotten.
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