Farida interviews RSC Guide, Ronald, about leading the Women's Expedition. What the skills sharing forum was really all about, the challenge of hiking Mount Mulanje and the amazing bond the group formed.

It’s a cloudy 18 degrees in Blantyre - probably less inside the brick walls of the Travel Barn - and I’ve just had a lovely chat with Ronald (my colleague here at The Responsible Safari Company).

In my own words, I will illustrate Ronald to you.

Ronald is a very calm, intelligent and happy middle aged man with a passion for travel. He has a vast knowledge of Malawian history and this is something that we value at The Responsible Safari Company. He is our second latest addition to the team and a friend to us all in the office.

 Ronald and Farida

Right, let’s get back into it shall we?

I sat down with Ron this morning to know more about his first group trip this May with the Women’s Expedition, I wish I could replay to you the synchronisation between his facial expressions, tone of voice and hand gestures. I knew this was a story worth listening to. And what kind of person would I be if I didn’t share it with you?

With coffee mug in hand, Ron sat down with ease. He set down his mug, and listened attentively to my first question.

What were your feelings and expectations about the trip in whole?

I was full of fear. The fact that this was my first group expedition, and my boss Kate was in the country, I needed to impress her. I was very fearful and felt the entire weight of a full grown bull on my shoulders. I was expected to perform my tasks with the utmost precision but I am very grateful for my supportive team as they encouraged and prepped me. 

The same question buzzed through my mind constantly “how am I going to manage this group?” However, the day came, the group arrived at Chileka International Airport and all my fears disappeared. I was met with smiles and very vibrant spirits. The ladies were happy to have landed in Malawi and were looking forward to their expedition. I was too!

Womens Ex ronald netball

How did your trip start?

Firstly, before the trip launched. Inno (our operations manager) briefed me; he told me what to do with groups, how to speak, he ran me through the entire itinerary day by day and made sure all my questions had been answered.

On Saturday 12thMay, I met the group at the airport. The clients were exhausted from their long trip but had time to rest at Casa Mia before the entrepreneurs networking night.

On Sunday I left with three of the British women (Natalie, Rachel and Hannah) - who work in the health sector -  to NAYO village. We spent half the day visiting the NAYO office where we were briefed on the actions taking place at the village: The youth are encouraged to go for voluntary testing, as well as counselling. There is also a small clinic present and here the three women gave gifts of donations, including items such as first aid kits.

What was the highlight of your trip?

Hmm that’s a tough one. There were many. But the one that stands out is the challenge we faced whilst hiking Mount Mulanje and how we managed it. I was so grateful to have had medical experts in the team of ladies. They were quick in thinking and managed to assist Kelly after her fall. She suffered an injury to the ankle and this made her descent down the mountain a little more difficult. The team spirit was astounding and I was very proud of the ladies. 

We slightly went into the transfer time of our itinerary, but because of the co-operation amongst the ladies, we managed to reach the base of the mountain at a few minutes to twelve and picked up pizzas in Limbe before heading to Mangochi.

Another highlight was being included in the trainings conducted by the ladies. Whilst at Rainbow Hope Secondary School, the team of ladies conducted First-Aid and mentorship trainings, which turned out to be very successful and beneficial to the students and teachers.

Ronald and Kelly

Any challenges during the trip?

The whole trip was a challenge and that’s what made it spectacular!

Any piece of advice for the next expedition?

With the previous expedition, I highly appreciated the communication between the team of ladies and I. They would ask me for advice on topics such as dressing and whether certain actions or speech would offend the local communities. This is really important as it makes the trip a much more enjoyed and comfortable experience.

Lastly, it is a challenge. Be prepared for some intense hiking, team bonding and mental workouts. 

Womens Ex Team Hike

 

 

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