This is my second trip to Malawi— the first time I came was for only 5 days in 2016 on a medical mission trip. This time, I am lucky to be able to stay for three whole weeks, participating first in a Friendship Trip and staying for the following medical trip. It’s impossible to comprehend that today is only our second full day here. A Friendship Trip is exactly that— we have gone into different villages and met villagers and helped alongside them with some of the work required of village life.
When I was trying to describe it to a friend before I came, they suggested this was really just “3rd World Tourism” and wasn’t that being incredibly condescending? I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. VIP is genuinely partners with its Villages. Even though the participants on the Friendship trip change, we are all welcomed as part of the Village family. Today, as we arrived, the Village we were entering had gathered early in anticipation.
As soon as they saw our trucks, they leapt in the air cheering and singing and dancing. This wasn’t some elaborate stage production waiting for its cue— it was genuine, passionate, cracked-wide-open love, and there aren’t words to describe how free and unabashed their expression was. As a doctor, I’ve been with people at the very best and very worst times in their lives, but this collective expression of unbridled joy is something I’ve never experienced.