In the morning hours of April 4th, after watching 72 campers and 8 Junior Counselors climb into transport to start their journey home, we sat on a bench and cried, realizing that the project we had worked so hard on for the past eight months had come to an end. It has been a long and difficult eight months trying to balance full-time teaching with full-time camp planning. It was a lot of work, a lot of stress, and a lot of traveling to figure it all out, but we consider ourselves beyond lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity as coordinators. We are finding it very difficult to write this blog post because it is simply not possible to sum all this up in a couple of paragraphs.
We each wanted to share our favorite moment of the week but we both chose the same thing. On the last night, just after we had given out all the students’ certificates we were surprised to have the students from our schools called up to the stage to thank us. We then tried (and failed) to keep ourselves composed as each of them spoke about how we had impacted their lives at school and this past week at camp. They concluded their presentation with a popular Malawian school song, “Madam Christine, although you will go far away, we will never forget you. Madam Melissa, although you will go far away, we will never forget you,” which brought endless tears to our faces. These students are our inspiration, and to have them thank us in this way was truly amazing.
Of course this memorable night and the entire camp could not have happened without an incredible team of Peace Corps counselors. The 16 PCVs with us throughout the week worked tirelessly to educate and entertain all of our campers. From morning exercise at 5 am to our nightly staff meetings at 10 pm, these counselors were wide-awake and energetic. They built relationships with their team of campers, helping to inspire them to keep working toward their dreams. Regardless of what we needed, these PCVs were there for us. They shared our passion for working with these inspiring students and for that we are incredibly grateful. To know that the hard work we put into this camp was appreciated and that these volunteers will never forget their time at Kamuzu Academy means the world to us. Each volunteer, regardless of his or her sector, brought a unique skill or passion to the table that made this camp the success that it was.
Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank the students that have continued to inspire us throughout our service. These students give us hope for the future of Malawi. During camp, we heard countless students say things like, “We are the future of Malawi and we are going to make the changes.” One poem performed by a student included a promise along these lines: “I’ll take what I’ve learned here to develop my own country.” We have been fortunate enough to be a part of Camp Sky in both 2014 and 2015 and can honestly say that the best part of it each year has been the students. They reawaken our faith in Malawi and remind us of why we are here.
We can never truly express how much all of this has meant to us. The support from everyone involved, including our friends and family back home, has been much appreciated. We have to stop writing now or the tears that have finally stopped three days later will start flowing again.