I’ve been away for quite some time. Definitely enough time to write you a few new blog entries. Right, let’s start with the Orbis Challenge shall we?

 A lot of people ask me what my job is like. If I enjoy it, what do I do and how. Most of the times I find myself explaining to people that I don’t look after wildlife and that indeed I sit at a beautiful desk, not behind the steering wheel of a 4x4 in a national park.

On this expedition however, I found myself quite close to the latter. I sat right at the front of an army green 4x4 Land Cruiser in Liwonde National Park. I am currently negotiating with my boss to let me go back and I’ll show you why.

The Orbis Challenge was an absolutely enthralling expedition, one that each member was proud to be a part of – from the logistics team, medics, challenge participants, office staff. This itinerary was derived from one of our existing itineraries “The Malawi Challenge” with a few tweaks here and there.

 Looking back to the start of this trip, I had no idea what level of acquaintance I would be on with any participant at the end of it. The first night seemed VERY surreal. My mind was not yet up to par with the fact that I or any of us in particular would be spending the next couple of days with retired Olympic Gold Medallist and now Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment Dame Kelly Holmes. I was expecting to see a PA or a very beefed up bodyguard to wave off overly excited spectators that stared too long like myself, but what I got instead was a very down to earth, soft spoken and very cheerful woman. I couldn’t digest it all. I was amazed.

Joined by British Ambassador to Malawi, Holly Tett and Minister of Sports Francis Kasaila, Dame Kelly Holmes expressed her passion for sports and its importance, during the welcome reception at Protea Ryalls Hotel. She was quite disappointed to hear that it has been removed from the national school curriculum here in Malawi and was determined to bring it back again.

Day one of our trip started with a fun day at St Andrew’s International High School in Nyambadwe, Blantyre. The challenge participants were welcomed by students at the school, who led them into a fun run. After a few games of netball against the Malawi Queens and Mary Waya Netball Academy, it was time for a nutritious lunch. Food was served at Pamthunzi in Mbayani, where we were shown the “Purpose” of the “Sport with a Purpose” Challenge, which is being launched in order to promote healthier street food: “Street Chef”. This was a chance for the Orbis Challenge participants to better understand the challenges in Malawi associated with malnutrition, and to find out more what local initiatives are doing to combat it. There was a wide variety of healthy food and drink and we sure loved it all.  My favourite was YXZ.

A very laid-back start to days of intense sport. Stay tuned for a day to day break down on how the challenge went.

 

 

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