Stephanie Kurth, 21, USA – June 2014

When I was first looking for volunteer opportunities abroad my main goal was to find a place where I could gain more experience in the field of wildlife ecology and veterinary medicine. The LWC fulfilled this criterion but what really made it stand out from other programs was its emphasis of keeping wildlife in the wild. Unlike volunteering at a zoo I knew that my time and money would be put towards truly helping wildlife through conservation and rehabilitation. The work that I did at the Centre was evidence to this goal.
During my stay, my primary role involved caring for orphaned animals including two clutches of barn owls that were eventually released back to the wild. I was even fortunate enough to assist the on site veterinarian in several surgical procedures such as suturing a bite wound on a hedgehog. However, my options of work weren’t limited to just animals. Thankfully the staff allowed me to explore other activities such as outreach and education work out in the Lilongwe community where I was able to delve into the local culture and learn about the problems the country faced and that the Centre was hoping to improve upon.
Volunteering at the LWC actually happened to be my first trip abroad, and to make it even more daunting I went on my own. Yet during my whole experience at the LWC I never felt alone or unsafe. Not only was I surrounded by baboons, lions, barn owls, and hedgehogs, but I was also surrounded by some amazing staff and fellow volunteers. As we went out clubbing, cheered on our countries during FIFA matches, and watched the sunsets while out on safari, we bonded and they became my family away from home.
Working at the LWC was the experience of a lifetime and I find myself wishing to go back there everyday. Not only did I gain experience in animal care and ecology, but I also met some amazing people, saw some incredible wildlife, and was introduced to the friendly Malawian culture. Malawi truly is the Warm Heart of Africa and volunteering at the LWC can help anyone with an interest in preserving wildlife, experience all that this warm-hearted country has to offer!