Linn-Mar Students Head to Malawi To Help


Ruthie Gustason, Co-Editor in Chief

The end of the school year is approaching, and most high school students are just trying to coast through the rest of May so they can kick back for three months when school lets out on June 5th. Emmie Buse and Zoë Dekruif are not most high school students.

“When we go to Malawi this summer, we will go to camp, and camp is about a week long, with a weekend in between it. Their school gets out at noon, and so camp goes from 12:30 to like 2 or 3. As counselors, we’ll lead group games and help spread the Camp Chisomo message to the kids,” said Dekruif.

The two juniors are leaving on June 1 for Malawi, Africa, where they will serve as camp counselors at Camp Chisomo.

“Our youth group director, Katie Castle, started the camp about ten years ago— although the campus is only two or three years old. Over half the population of Malawi is children– like, under fourteen years old– and so camp started as a way to give these kids a place to be kids. A lot of them are orphaned, due to the AIDS epidemic, and a lot of mothers die in childbirth, too, because they don’t have proper medication and stuff like that, so these kids end up taking care of their families and they have to grow up before they’re ready to grow up. Camp Chisomo is supposed to be a place where they can live out the childhood they missed out on,” said Buse.

The girls started the application process in December, and have spent the past five months preparing to go abroad. Each of them has been partnered with someone who has previously been to the camp, and they’ve undergone cultural training to prepare for the shift when crossing the Atlantic.

“I think for me, I sat and learned about it for three years and just- every time we talked about it, I would think, wow, this is just the coolest thing ever. Like, I just thought it was the greatest thing. They not only went there with these kids— because you hear about these mission trips— they make an effort not to give them things, because they know that if they give them things and then they leave, they won’t be sustained on that. So they try their best to just be with them and to teach them and show them affection, because they’ll still have that when we’re gone. I’ve just always thought that was the coolest thing ever, and I wanted to be able to be a part of that, to serve in that way,” said Dekruif.

“A lot of these kids don’t have anyone that ever tells them they love them, and I feel like some of these kids don’t even know how to say I love you. And so we just get to go there and be like, we’re here. We love you, and we’re here to play with you and be with you, and that’s kind of the coolest to me,” said Buse.