Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

African home for Nanneella resident

Nanneella’s Ayla Pearson will spend the next four months in a remote village in Africa working with local people in a welfare role.

GRAHAM WILLIS August 19, 2014 11:00pm

Nanneella's Ayla Pearson.

When Ayla Pearson heard about the chance to work in an African village for four months, she grasped the chance with both hands.

Later this month, the Nanneella resident will fly to Malawi in south-east Africa where she will work closely with women and children in a small village.

‘‘I have always dreamed of working with people who have less than we do and this is something I’ve needed to do for a long time,’’ she said.

‘‘My grandmother Margie (Rochester’s Margaret Pearson) said she has always seen this in me so I guess she has encouraged me to do something like this.’’

The desire to travel overseas started when Miss Pearson completed a Lions exchange to Italy and Germany in 2012.

‘‘That probably gave me the travel bug,’’ she said.

Travelling to Africa she will be part of a small contingent organised by Latitude Global Volunteering, which operates gap year programs for students who recently completed their schooling.

‘‘I came across the program at a careers expo in Melbourne and it started from there,’’ she said.

Miss Pearson will stay in Nkhotakota village and work at the Bwengu protection and Health Centre with another girl in the program.

‘‘My role will be a community worker bonding and forming trust with the women and children,’’ she said.

‘‘We will wait and see what else is involved in the role.’’

A former champion swimmer, Miss Pearson is hoping she may have the chance to do some swimming coaching.

She said the experience would be life-changing.

‘‘It will not only be an eye-opener, but will give me the opportunity to find out more about who I am and where my future lies,’’ he said.

She has received great support from her parents Lori and Simon for the venture.

‘‘Dad was apprehensive at first, but they really wouldn’t let me go if they didn’t think it was safe,’’ she said.

As far as daily life in Malawi, Miss Pearson was looking forward to learning the local language, even though English was widespread.

‘‘The food will be different,’’ she said.

‘‘A main part of the diet is Nsima which is like a potato mash, while fruit and vegetables are also plentiful.

‘‘Meat is very expensive so I don’t think we will have much of it.’’

Departing on Sunday, Miss Pearson said she was excited and nervous about the venture.

‘‘This has been my dream for a long time and I am thrilled it is finally happening.’’

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