Lughano is one of over 400 students supported by D2Ds Youth Sponsorship Program. Recently, Lughano experienced his first trip outside of Malawi on a 5 week fundraising trip to the US with Founder and Executive Director of D2D Matt Maroon and our Women’s Coordinator Ponleo Kalonga. Lughano spoke at fundraising events in 5 different states and enjoyed meeting D2Ds American supporters. We caught up with him on his return to ask a few questions about his experiences during the trip.
What were your feelings before leaving for your trip?
Before leaving for the trip I was so excited to see America, but I was also nervous about being in the plane for the first time. On the other hand I was excited to experience plane travel! So my feelings were mixed.
What was your favourite moment of the fundraising trip?
My favourite thing about the trip was learning new ideas. I spoke to many different people during the fundraising events and learnt about their life. They were also interested about my life in Malawi so I really enjoyed exchanging conversation with interesting people. My favourite moment was getting to explain how D2D is getting involved in pushing the standard of living for people in Malawi, especially in terms of education. I felt really proud during that time!
What was the most nerve wracking thing you did during your trip in the US?
I got to ride a huge rollercoaster and experience Halloween! It was really different to anything I have ever done before and I was really nervous about riding the rollercoaster. Speaking to big audiences was a little scary at first, but then I got used to it and enjoyed explaining to people about Malawi and the work D2D does in our community.
If you could bring one thing from the US to Malawi, and the other way around, what would you chose?
I would bring the level of education and the big maize (corn) farms from the US to Malawi. I would bring some of the schools because they were well equipped and had lots of learning materials, which is the opposite of schools in Malawi. The maize farms I saw had huge tractors and other machinery they use in the farms. I would also bring the food processing industry so Malawians could process and preserve their crops during hungry times, like vegetables. I would bring communal meals from Malawi to the US. I saw some people eating alone and lots of people eat in restaurants. In Malawi we always prepare and eat food together.
What were your highlights of the whole trip?
There are many! I got to watch basketball and saw Lebron James, the most famous basketball player. At the zoo I saw lots of animals that we used to have in Malawi, like lions, elephants, cheetahs and more, but are now hard to find because of deforestation and poaching. I was really surprised to see ‘Mbuna’ fish, which are native to Lake Malawi, in an aquarium! Also, I got to experience 4D glasses which was really crazy. There are too many highlights to talk about but these are some of the ones that stick in my mind.
What was the strangest thing you saw in the US?
The strangest thing had to be the highways and tall buildings. It was also very strange to see everyone going to the restaurants for food. In Malawi we normally prepare food at home every day.
What things did you learn whilst on the trip?
I learnt that America has a big agricultural system using modern technologies, like irrigation systems and machinery. If this was introduced in Malawi, we could avoid the deadly droughts that happen each year which heavily effects crop yield. I also learnt that the US is good at taking care of their trees and wildlife, something which Malawi can do better at. Malawi can learn some things from the US which could boost the tourism industry too.
If you could pick one or two things to tell our readers the best thing about Determined to Develop, and the impact it is having on you and other students, what would it be?
From D2Ds four cornerstones, I would say the most important thing they are doing is thinking about young people in terms of education. Nowadays it is very difficult for a young person to go to school because of the rising cost of school fees and materials. Many people in Malawi are poor subsistence farmers. They produce little even to feed their families, therefore its very difficult for most to send their kids to school. With the help of D2D many youths are able to access high school education. Apart from that, D2D are thinking about girls who make up a vulnerable group of people in our community. To help girls deal with the challenges they face every day, D2D runs three different girls clubs that provide informal education. I wish to encourage my fellow students supported by D2D to work extra hard so that the effort D2D is paying now should be fruitful in the future.
What three words would you use to describe your experience in the US?
Fun, exciting and eye opening!