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Message from Malawi: why I'll be counting down the days until I return to Africa

This week I'll be flying back home to a cold and stormy (so I'm told) Scotland.

I can hardly believe I've been in Malawi for more than 15 weeks-time has really just flown by!

My first few months here have been both testing and inspiring. I've faced my fear of geckos and spiders; walked along the sandy shores of Lake Malawi; swam under the waterfall on Mount Mulanje; and searched for 'the big five' on safari, but more important than all of those wonderful experiences is, quite simply, being a part of Mary's Meals.

I've witnessed the joy that a simple backpack can bring to a child. I've seen the inspirational work of our volunteers at our Under 6 Centres, who teach the children to count and recite the alphabet. I've handed a child a mug of likuni phala and seen their face light up, knowing that this mug of food will be their only meal that day.

I've also met inspirational children who have lost their parents and are now looking after their siblings while they try to gain an education to better their future. The work of Mary's Meals is paramount to the lives of these children, and to be part of it has been a life-changing experience.

At this time of year in Scotland, I'd most likely be Christmas shopping along Buchanan Street, with a hot chocolate from Starbucks, wrapped up warm with a scarf and matching wooly hat. However, in Malawi, I'm wearing a t-shirt, driving to one of our schools with the windows down, and I have Christmas tunes playing on the car stereo.

I remember feeling the blast of heat when I first arrived in Malawi and thinking, 'I'm not sure I can handle this'; however, now I love it-it's the cold weather waiting for me back home that's slightly worrying me now!

The early mornings-waking up at 5am-is something I have definitely mastered. There's no need to set an alarm on my phone. I wake up, like clockwork, every morning when the sun rises. In Scotland at 5am it's pitch black outside, so I'm not sure how my body-clock will adjust to the darker days.

It's going to be great to be back home, but I have to admit, I think I will miss Malawi, and will probably be counting down the days until I return in January for the remainder of my year in Africa.

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