In Malawi you can stay in various hotels, lodges and guesthouses. From budget to luxury and from the middle of the city, to surrounded by breath-taking nature. But do you really want to get to know the country and its people? Then consider a Homestay in Malawi!
What is a Homestay?
Profits from tourism are often not distributed fairly. Most of the money disappears into the pockets of a select few. Or in foreign bank accounts, so that local communities never really benefit from it.
During a Homestay, the name says it all, you stay at someone’s home. In the community, a host family or families are chosen, who enjoy welcoming visitors into their home. You are invited to participate in the daily routine of your host family. That’s why a Homestay is not just an accommodation, but a real experience!
The daily activities differ a bit per location, but think about planting crops, fetching water from the well, weaving baskets, driving an ox cart or repairing a canoe. But one thing will be the same at every Homestay; you join your host family for local meals, you can play football or jump rope with the children and listen to stories. If you’re lucky, you might be invited to take part in traditional dancing and singing.
You are welcome to stay for a night, a week, a month or even longer, as long as you are willing to truly become part of a wonderful community in the Warm Heart of Africa!
What do you experience at a Homestay?
In each location, the communities do not only provide accommodation to travelers in the form of a host family. We also encourage the development of workshops and activities specific to the area where the community lives. Travelers will then join these activities to learn about the friendly people of Malawi and their culture. By experiencing different Homestays, you can learn all kinds of things about, for example, agriculture, fishing, tea plucking and livestock. This is combined with traditional cooking, crafts, local storytelling and dancing. In certain areas there’s even the possibility to enjoy boat trips, (bird) safaris, hiking and mountain biking.
We want to maintain a strong relationship with everyone involved. Entrepreneurial skills development is a priority in this authentic sector of the tourism industry.
A network of Homestays in Malawi
We strive for better integration between people traveling to Malawi and local communities. By spreading tourism better in the country, more Malawians will benefit from this growing industry. The travelers themselves have a better experience, when they not only visit the tourist ‘hot spots’, but discover authentic places in Malawi. Did you know that this is one of the safest and friendliest countries in Africa?
The best way to achieve this, is to develop a network of Homestays across the country.
- Homestays guarantee direct job creation for local communities in remote areas, which would otherwise not have benefited from tourism in Malawi
- Homestays provide an additional income that will be used for the further development of these communities, with an emphasis on sustainable education, empowerment of women and youth, and entrepreneurial skills
- Homestays have a lower carbon footprint than other accommodation types and are therefore better for the environment
- Homestays can lead to long-term relationships that have valuable spin-off benefits for everyone involved
- Homestays are much more than just accommodation, they are an experience!
Currently there are very few real Homestays in Malawi and all of them are relatively close to cities. We find it essential to involve remote areas, to also give the people there a chance to generate an income from tourism. By spreading tourism across the country, we relieve the pressure on local resources in certain areas and contribute to the sustainability of Malawi as an ever-growing tourist destination.
We don’t just want to develop Homestays in all the different regions of Malawi, but also connect them to create an innovative network of collaborative communities where everyone can learn from each other. Many of these communities are quite isolated. Discussions have shown that people would like to be more informed about what is happening around in the country. Especially on topics such as education and agriculture, people can and want to learn a lot from each other.
The Homestays work as a connecting factor and we look forward to bringing people together.
So, what’s happening with our plans?
Due to the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, things are going a lot slower than we had hoped. Still, we set up a project in 2020 to set up a unique network of Homestays in Malawi.
We started in the home village of our good friend Howard, a little outside of Lilongwe, the capital. This small community of farmers is the perfect starting point. Here we can work closely with Howard and his family to figure out how to create the best experience for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, to realize this network of Homestays in Malawi, some money is needed. We have set up a crowdfunding for this, to which many contributions have already been made. Thank you so much everyone!
Because any real improvements around COVID-19 are taking longer than everyone had hoped, we’re not rushing this project. We have put the money collected so far in a separate savings account.
In agreement with a number of sponsors, we used a small part of this to help Howard and his family with the purchase of some new roof sheets. A heavy storm has caused considerable damage in their village. Since the Homestays network is mainly about supporting each other, we wanted to contribute to the reconstruction of the houses.
To be prepared for hosting guests, Howard has added an extra bedroom to his house. He now also has his own (outdoor) toilet at his house, which most guests will prefer to a toilet outside the village…
Howard also has mattresses at home now, so you can opt for a little more comfort if you don’t want to sleep on a bamboo mat on the floor, like the people here do.
To top it off, Howard and his cousins spend a lot of time in the nearby Dzalanyama Forest Reserve. They are now exploring the most beautiful hiking trails, so that you can enjoy them soon!
Basically, Howard and his family are ready to host guests for a Homestay. Although it’s difficult due to all the ever-changing travel advice, we remain positive. We have decided to put “our” Homestays in Malawi on the map. We have to start somewhere and we’re doing so with this blog!
Obviously, everyone’s health and safety are a top priority. That’s why we expect everyone who is going to experience a Homestay, to take a COVID rapid test beforehand. We certainly don’t want to put the rural communities of Malawi at any unnecessary risk.
Future Homestays in Malawi
We have now also taken the first steps towards developing Homestays together with a community in the Kasungu District and of course in one of the fishermen’s villages on Lake Malawi, within walking distance of where we stay.
We have been involved with the community in Kasungu District since early 2020, for our volunteer work for the SEEn Foundation. We work together with an inspiring group of people in the Netherlands and in the village itself, to make their own wishes and dreams for the future come true.
And as you know, we moved to a beach at Lake Malawi in March 2021. The people in the villages here are very friendly and welcoming. Moreover, it’s a very beautiful area with some beautiful Baobab trees in the middle of the village. We’re working on getting to know everyone better and building a strong relationship. We’re very much looking forward to set up a Homestay together with the community here.
On top of that, we’re busy with some new developments, a little further south in Malawi. We will tell you more about this soon, but a Homestay is also part of the plans there!
How can you help us?
Although we’ve already received a lot of financial contributions to this project, we have not yet reached our target amount. If our business had run as it should have for the past year and a half, we would never have asked for help. But the more we speak to all our motivated new friends in Malawi, the more we want to help them build this network of Homestays.
It costs some money now to get things going, but it’s the goal of us and all others involved to run these Homestays independently and sustainably as quickly as possible. The profit gets reinvested for improvements and of course to develop Homestays in new locations, so that this network can continue to grow!
Through our crowdfunding campaign (click here), you can easily and safely make a donation. And of course, we would also really appreciate it if you can tell your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors about these plans. Perhaps they also want to contribute, and otherwise it’s great marketing in any case.
Zikomo kwambiri, in other words, thank you very much!!