Who: Mollie MitchellWhere: Namibia and Malawi When: 2002 (Namibia); 2009, 2011, 2012-present (Malawi)
What was the biggest thing you learned during your travels? During my first trip to Africa as a seventeen-year-old, I was struck by how, at the core, people are the same no matter where they live. Before traveling to Africa, when I had only read about and seen pictures of people in African countries, I tended to put Africans in a box of being completely different from me. As I spent time talking to and serving alongside Namibians in 2002, I saw clearly that, no matter what country or culture we are from, we all have hopes, disappointments, fears, challenges, and a desire to know that we are loved. Now that I have been living in Malawi and working at a high school for the past six months, it is more apparent than ever that teenagers everywhere desire to be known, want their friends to like them, act silly and love being crazy while trying to appear cool, and are trying to learn how to make their own choices for their lives.
A lot of people say they felt their life changed after traveling to Africa. Was this true for you? If so, how?When I was in Namibia, I realized in a new way how important and powerful prayer is. When I returned to the US, I committed to getting up early each morning to spend time in prayer with my mom, who had also been on the trip to Namibia. To this day, prayer holds a very important place in my life.
Ultimately, my trips to Namibia and Malawi led me to fall in love with the African culture and people. I decided to dedicate a year or more of my life invested in an opportunity that melds my love for Africa with my heart for education. Presently, I am living in Malawi, serving as an education consultant with Children of the Nations.
Was there a specific person/people you met that had an impact on you? There are so many children and adults who have impacted my life, especially since I have been living in Malawi long-term. However, my heart will always have a very special place for my sponsor son, Alfred. While I was preparing for my first trip to Malawi in 2009, my seventh grade students in the US decided to help me sponsor a ten-year-old boy. Together, we supported and prayed for Alfred. When I travelled to Malawi, I had the opportunity to meet Alfred, give him letters from my American students, and tell him how we were praying for him. Now that I am working at a Malawian high school and see first-hand what a difference education makes in the life of a Malawian child, I want so much for my sponsor son to have this opportunity. I am praying for Alfred and encouraging him to do his best in school because one day I want to see him graduate from college.
If you'd like to keep up with Mollie's story while she is in Malawi you can also check out her personal blog.