Category Archives: H.e.l.p. Malawi

H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: last day

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Final thoughts from the H.E.L.P. Malawi Ursuline College team: Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer, Rhianna McChesney, Taylor Bruno, Maggie Stark and Molly Sabolsky.

Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer. As I sit in the Dulles Airport waiting for our final flight back to Cleveland, I can’t imagine a better trip with Maggie, Molly, Rhianna, Taylor and the entire H.E.L.P. Malawi team. It may have been my third trip, but each visit gets better and better with new and exciting experiences. I was able to visit the local secondary school this time where I saw the four students, Felia, Mary, Ramek and Stand, who we taught sewing to on our first trip in 2011. Such a special moment to reconnect with them! H.E.L.P. and Ursuline have such an important mission to educate and I am so proud to be a part of both organizations.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day four

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by Rhianna McChesney, Education & English Student

In today’s words of Mr. Wells Sikala, HELP’s Country Director, “Lose nothing, gain more.”

Wells spoke these little words of wisdom after he honked our truck’s horn to alert anyone who might have been walking around a particularly sharp bend in the long, narrow, maize-lined, bumpy and winding dirt road on our way to Mlambe Junior Primary School. Wells lost nothing by honking his horn like a mad man when the gain meant potentially saving someone’s life. Something about Malawi makes it easy to adopt this kind of optimistic mindset.

At Mlambe, one of Nanthomba’s local sister schools, we distributed more drawstring bags and water bottles from IFAW. Before passing out the gifts, everyone exchanged introductions with the area chiefs. It was an honor to meet the people who lead the community here. When it was time to leave, the students crowded around us. Touching their hands outreached in gratitude as we inched our way to the trucks made my heart swell with the joy of everything I have gained so far from this trip. Lose nothing, gain more.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day three

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by Maggie Stark, Art Student

Day three of sewing!

Today started fabulously with our first African Safari! Guess who saw elephants? Oh yes, this girl! Along with two families of elephants, we saw kudu (like African deer), baboons, wort hogs (yes, Pumba!), water buck, impala, vervet monkeys and a buffalo. It is the rainy season here, which means the foliage is super lush. It was quite the treat to see all that we did.

After the wild safari, we took our tin boat across the Shire river to the trucks located within the park. We all piled in the Land Cruzer heading toward Nanthomba Primary School for our after school sewing session. We passed by students on the road, and they started to sprint in excitement after us.

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H.E.L.P. Malawi journey: day two

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by Taylor Bruno, Psychology Student

It’s only 9:41 AM and today has already been so eventful! Earlier at breakfast a mischievous little monkey jumped right on our table to steal Jessica’s (from H.E.L.P. Malawi) eggs! Although it was hilarious, I ran out of the way instantly because I thought it was coming right at me afterward. Following that we got ready for our daily trip to Nanthomba from MVUU, where we watched the hippos and alligators from the boat dock. After getting to the other side of the Shire, we loaded into the trucks to take us to the school. On today’s ride, I saw baboons for the first time!

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H.E.L.P Malawi Sewing journey: day one

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by Molly Sabolsky, Nursing Student

I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this first day at the school was. We entered the yard of the school and we were greeted by so many beautiful, smiling faces. It was overwhelming – so many of the children wanted to touch our hands.

I think the theme of this trip is “go with the flow.” After setting up the sewing room, we were told that we would not have power until the next day, so our sewing machines were not going to work. We switched up our game plan and decided to teach our hand sewing lesson instead.

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Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer

Q&A with the H.E.L.P. Malawi Team: Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer

Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer ’03 is the Director of Alumnae Relations and Development Specialist at Ursuline College.

What is your connection to the H.E.L.P. Malawi organization?
Back in 2009, I received a mailer from the H.E.L.P. organization and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for Ursuline College to become a part of.  It took a good year to produce a full plan, but the H.E.L.P./Ursuline Sewing Project was created.  The UC fashion department graciously donated sewing machines and tons of notions to the cause.  In 2010, myself, Dr. Connie Korosec and Anne-Marie Gurko headed over to Malawi to begin the sewing project.  The first trip was a jam packed 10 days full of ideas, set-up, creating lesson plans, teaching children and adults and even hosting an all-day mending day to fix the children’s clothing who were students at Nanthomba.  The trip was an extremely successful and the team at H.E.L.P. Malawi said it was their most successful volunteer trip to date.

Why is the partnership with Ursuline and HELP important to you?
When I first heard about the H.E.L.P. organization I was very intrigued by their work and how not only did the organization and Wolstein family help this community, but the Malawian community itself was so very invested in the projects.  Once I began working with the group, I soon loved the work I was doing as well as what Ursuline was doing for the organization.  It is an organization that is truly near and dear to my heart now.  It is hard not to forget the faces of the children you come into contact with while you are there.  On my second visit, I thought there would be no way they would remember me, but when I arrived at Nanthomba School the many children I taught were yelling my name and running up to greet me.  It was extremely overwhelming to know how much what we did meant to them.

Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer

What was your first impression of Africa and what are you looking forward to on this trip?
My sister had traveled to Mozambique, which is located right next to Malawi, so I tried to get an idea from her on her travels, but I knew that no matter how much information I had ahead of time, I would be completely in awe of the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings I would have in Malawi.  I was raised in Chagrin Falls, so being in a place link Malawi, was extremely eye-opening.  I learned so much about myself on the trips.  I am really looking forward to the upcoming trip to see the sewing project continue and grow.  My real excitement is going to be watching the 4 students who are going on the journey.  None of them have been to Africa before and one of them has never been on a plane.  This is experience changed my life and I know it will do the same for them.  I can’t wait to watch their journey.

What are your thoughts on Molly, Rhianna, Maggie and Taylor?
To be completely honest with you, I could not have hand-picked a better group of students to travel to Malawi with me.  Each student is studying a different degree; nursing, education, art and psychology so the trip will be different for each one of them.  I am very encouraged by their eagerness to know as much as they can before we travel and be open to the experiences we will have on the trip.  After my fist trip to Malawi, now I just tell people who are going for the first time to be completely open, so you can take in all of the wonderful opportunities Malawi, the “warm-heart of Africa” has to share with you!

Tiffany Mushrush Mentzer

Maggie Stark

Q&A with the H.E.L.P. Malawi Team: Maggie Stark

Maggie Stark is a senior Studio Art major and work-study student with the Marketing Department.

What inspired you to go on the H.E.L.P. trip?
I was inspired to visit Malawi after building the huts in the Wasmer Gallery for the H.E.L.P. Exhibit last February. After hearing about the organization’s mission & seeing all the great work Ursuline did while in Africa, I was determined to have an opportunity in Malawi as well.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
While in Malawi, I really hope to take in the African culture, values, and way of living. I’d like to experience two weeks, living and working like the Malawians do every single day. I believe this will truly be an impactful experience.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I’m really excited to meet all the children we are sewing uniforms for! I’ve seen so many photos, but seeing them in person will surely steal my heart.

Thinking about Ursuline’s motto, Values, Voice & Vision, how will it represent you on the journey?
This trip will give me a vision into a third-world country, use my voice to speak about what I have experienced, & ultimately practice my value for helping others.

What’s your favorite African animal?
African Elephant!

What are 3 words that come to mind when you think about Africa?
Kids, Water, & Elephants

Maggie Stark

Maggie Stark

Taylor Bruno

Q&A with the H.E.L.P. Malawi Team: Taylor Bruno

Taylor Bruno is a Psychology major set to graduate in 2016.

What inspired you to go on the H.E.L.P. trip?
Maggie (Stark) gave me information about the trip in the spring of last year and I’ve been so excited ever since!

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to gain insight of what its like to live in another country and to appreciate everything I have at home. I also hope to learn from the children and capture the beauty of Malawi.

What are you most excited about?
To see the elephants, monkeys and hopefully a lion. To help the children so they can have a successful future, to gain a new perspective and to see the African sunrise and sunset!

Thinking about Ursuline’s motto, Values, Voice & Vision, how will it represent you on the journey?
I will present my values by working hard to help those in need and having a positive attitude throughout the entire journey. I will present my voice by sharing things with the children in the village and trying to teach them new things. I will gain a new vision of what it is like to live in a completely different area and culture.

What’s your favorite African animal?
All of them!

What are 3 words that come to mind when you think about Africa?
Elephants. Monkeys. Safari.

Taylor Bruno

Taylor Bruno

Rhianna McChesney

Q&A with the H.E.L.P. Malawi Team: Rhianna McChesney

Rhianna McChesney is an Education and English major and Resident Assistant set to gradate in 2016.

What inspired you to go on the H.E.L.P. trip?
I was inspired to go on the trip because what we’ll be doing in Malawi is what I want to do for the rest of my life: teach!

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to learn how to be a better teacher on a global standard and to improve my sewing skills!

What are you most excited about?
I am most excited about working with children who so desperately want to learn.

Thinking about Ursuline’s motto, Values, Voice & Vision, how will it represent you on the journey?
Ursuline’s motto will represent me on the journey through my value of service, using my voice when I return home to share what I learned and my vision of education for everyone worldwide.

What’s your favorite African animal?
My favorite African animal is the giraffe.

What are 3 words that come to mind when you think about Africa?
Three words that come to mind when I think of Africa are sunrise, hot, need.

Rhianna McChesney

Rhianna McChesney

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Q&A with the H.E.L.P. Malawi Team: Molly Sabolsky

Molly Sabolsky is a senior nursing major and volleyball player at Ursuline College. 

What inspired you to go on the H.E.L.P. trip?
It was kind of by chance that I got included on the planning for this trip, but my freshmen year I had heard about the trip and thought it was only for fashion majors. I was so jealous because it sounded like such an awesome opportunity!

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
I hope to have an eye opening expereince that will make me more knowledgable of a different culture. I also hope to have fun and just make some great memories.

What are you most excited about?
I am most excited for meeting the kids in Malawi and teaching them a skill that will allow them help themselves, but also their community!
Thinking about Ursuline’s motto, Values, Voice & Vision, how will it represent you on the journey?
I feel that by going on this trip I will be able to take who I am as a person and the core values of Ursuline  that I embody as I interact with the people there and make a positive impact on their lives.
What’s your favorite African animal?
AN ELEPHANT! It has aways been on my bucket list to ride an elephant in Thailand…I obviously wont be in Thailand and I probably won’t get to ride one But, if I get to see one while I am there I will be so excited!
What are 3 words that come to mind when you think about Africa?
Service. Eye opening. Memorable.
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