Latest News from Malawi

On the 1 st July 1999, Servas Malawi went "on air". The programme went out live at 7am on The Capital FM on Saturday morning which is prime time listening in Malawi. It was very brief about 5 minutes and basically introduced the aims of Servas to listeners. It was part of a publicity campaign in Malawi to attract Malawian local members. Servas has existed for about 6 years with its only host being Christopher who lived in Debza. To date, there are 7 members and growing. It's an unusual step to take and there was much deliberation among members as to whether it was a good idea. But we will never know if we don't try and times are changing with modern technology like email being commonly used by Servas travellers to contact hosts. As the main contact here in Malawi, I will be going on the air again in late August to tell listeners more about Servas in detail as the 1 st of August was only a trailer for incoming programmes. The idea is to then invite interested individuals who contacted me in a face to face meeting with myself and other members.

The web site on Servas Malawi is up and I warmly encourage Servas members and friends to take a look at it - its great and just what we need as we come into the new century.

As I write I am in the island of Reunion visiting for one week. In fact, it was on a visit to Mauritius and upon meeting Servas host Rey that I was encouraged by his enthusiasm to take the 6 hour catamaran boat journey from Mauritius to Reunion. Here I learned to my surprise and ignorance about a thriving Servas community. Reunion which is a department of France- so in all but its position in the Indian Ocean. IT IS France and seems to receive few Servas visitors except those from France. It has so much to offer to the Servas traveller - so organised, good transport system, constant electricity - European standards it is something of a culture shock for me coming from Malawi. Towns in Reunion are found scattered around its edge while the islands centre is one great hiking area of well marked paths - day walks and 3-4 day hikes with packs. It's a shame that I do not have more time to meet with Servas Reunion and to sample more of its great scenery and panoramas - did I mention the active volcano? Vanillas? The ylang ylang orchards, the creole food and the beaches? Best come and see for yourself. I took a 350 US$ flight from Harare to Mauritius and then a 60 US$ return boat to Reunion: Reunion is about 10% more expensive than France do be prepared for this.

Mauritius also has a well established Servas community which offers a wonderful insight into everyday Mauritian life. Its members are predominantly of Indian descent as as this group make up the majority of the country inhabitants, it is the very best way to be culturally submerged. Its known internationally as the place where romantic weddings take place among palm tree on white sandy beaches and indeed its beaches are wonderful easily reached by public transport. The local street food is a real treat: chapatis and an array of chinese food. Any Servas member with time and an interest in history and cultural diversity should put Mauritius onto their must-visit travel AFTER Malawi of course!!!

Demelza LEWIS - 8th August 1999 ----------------

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Flights from France to Reunion are very good value especially at low season return from Paris at 480 US$ and there you can catch the boat across to Mauritius. Also, there is a fantastic 3-day annual race in Reunion for the super-fit as an athletically challenge.