Jessica Clarke - student blog

Volunteering Expedition in Malawi

Civil engineering

In May I will be going to Malawi with 23 other women to volunteer at Rainbow Hope Secondary School.

The women who are going consist of 11 WSP engineers and 8 Jacobs engineers, 2 NHS nurses, an OFR Consultancy engineer and a marketing specialist from the UK, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

We will be helping build 2 new classrooms that have been designed by some of the team, the initial work has already begun out there as we have contacted a local company to build the schools.

We will be using locally sourced eco bricks which the team found from research and the team will be getting involved in helping with the build.


Classroom design 

I have been involved with the internal design of the classrooms, one of which will be a STEM themed classroom and the other will be an IT classroom.

We have been discussing designs and ideas for the walls of the classroom and we are getting some of the ideas printed onto vinyl to take over with us to make it look as professional as possible.  We are trying to decorate the classrooms with STEM inspired ideas and we are trying to make them relevant to which ever class room they will be situated in. For example, in the STEM block we are getting different mathematic equations and cell diagrams printed onto vinyl to stick up.

Working at the school

I will also be doing STEM workshops with the students to try and encourage them to take STEM subjects onto higher levels. Some ideas that are being considered are; Skyscraper build, Scribble making, Earth quake safety, the formation of lake Malawi, table top hovercraft building and first aid training.

Raising money for the project

The team has organised a lot of fund raising to try and fund the build of the classrooms and to provide STEM equipment for the classroom for future use. We have been using a ‘go fund me’ page to keep track of donations and team members have been doing individual fund raising. 

We have been using social media, mainly Facebook and Instagram, to promote the trip and to try and bring in donation. The team has managed to raise an impressive £10,400!

The future

Excitingly, the trip is going to be made into a short documentary by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The IET will be providing us with filming equipment for the first week of the build so we can capture what is going on. Then a film crew will be joining us for the second week to see the finishing of the classrooms. This is very exciting for us as it means firstly, we will have our amazing experience documented to watch back and secondly, it may hopefully inspire another group of people to go and volunteer too.  

I am very excited about this trip! We are collecting resources for the workshops and internal design to take over there.

I cannot wait to meet the team and the students of the school, it will be a totally new experience for me and I hope to learn a lot from my team mates and from the way of life in Malawi.

I am also really hoping we will make a difference by providing the new classrooms and new equipment to the students of Rainbown Hope Secondary School. Hopefully it will allow them to have a more appropriate learning space and will let them learn valuable life skills on the computers.

I really hope the workshops and classrooms will inspire the students to continue their education in a STEM subject to a higher level.