Monkeying around in Monkey Bay

On the Eastern side of the Lake Malawi National Park peninsular is Monkey Bay.  Our destination here was Sumbi Beach Project, and Grant, Abi and Tom.

This is an impressive duo – Grant and Abi.  They are 20-something Brits who have set up an NGO in Malawi with numerous ideas for local projects, particularly related to nursery age children.  Many projects have already broken ground, and the duo are in constant contact with other locals in search of more ways to help in the local community.  Their good friend Tom, helping them out, completes the trio.

We wanted to give them a hand in any way we could, and realised that there was a lot to accomplish on site prior to the arrival of their first group of volunteers – in 4 days time!  It was all hands on deck to ensure they were ready to accommodate the 40+ school children and adults arriving over 3 days.

They have a great team of Malawians on site – and very soon we felt like part of workforce!  Yes, shovels and digging were part of the game for us too!  Everyone had a great sense of humour, and the loyalty and pride everyone had to the project was tangible.  What an ideal work environment.

The surrounding villages have adopted the trio into their hearts.  This was evident as we walked the few hundred meters to the beach.  The children all recognised Abi from afar, and calls of ‘Abi’ and ‘Happy’ (some of them thought this was Abi’s name) could be heard the whole way.  Many kids came running to say hi, and before long, all of us had 2 or 3 children hanging off our hands.  They were fascinated by Abi’s long dark hair, stroking it lovingly.

It wasn’t all hard work!  There was also time to learn how to play bawo – the local Malawian board and bean game.  We saw it weeks ago when we first entered Malawi, but haven’t found anyone to teach us.  Finally!  We love the game so much that we have ordered our own Kapp2Cape board ;).

We also had a chance to explore the little town – mainly in need of odds and ends for the tasks we were carrying out on site, but also to stock up on delicious bread at the bakery, fresh produce in the market and other provisions at the little grocery stores.  There was enough selection to keep going, but wider variety available at Mangochi, about an hour away.

Our initial 1 month visas were also running dangerously close to expiry, as were the nSumbi Beach trio’s, so we had a group trip to the immigration office at the port to take care of visa extensions – quick and easy, for a nominal fee.

The days flew by, and soon it was time for us to say goodbye and flee the arriving hoards!  We wished them good luck before hopping in the car and disappearing …

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