Wilmslow man helps improve village life in Africa following near-fatal kayaking trip

A young man from Wilmslow has built a brand new nursery school in the small village of Chazuka in Malawi, following a kayaking expedition that went horribly wrong and nearly claimed his life.

Alex Hill, 24 at the time, set off on his ambitious expedition of the three Great Lakes of Africa back in 2016. Shortly after, disaster struck when treacherous weather caused him to lose control of his kayak. He washed up on the shores of the Malawian fishing village of Chazuka where he received a huge amount of warmth and hospitality from the local people.

For the six months following the near-fatal trip, Alex stayed in the village, which would soon become his second home and immersed himself in the community learning the local language, Chichewa. One day he was sitting underneath a mango tree, teaching children the alphabet and a young man approached and asked "Alex, can I be a teacher at your school?" It was then that it became apparent that he had somehow unintentionally started a
school.

Over the last three years, Alex has been working with the local community to build The Chazuka School, which opened its doors in February to 25 excited pupils and two teachers. The school belongs to the community and provides the children with literacy, numeracy, expressive arts and practical work.

Alex, a former pupil at Wilmslow High School, told wilmslow.co.uk "Chazuka is my second home and I feel incredibly lucky that my kayaking trip led me there. I never set out to start a charity... It's all been quite accidental. I just wanted to give back to a community that showed me so much kindness when I was in trouble and far away from home. I'm so excited about what the future holds for The Chazuka Project and I'm really grateful to everyone that has supported me to get to this point."

He added "The people of Chazuka took me in when I almost died on a kayaking adventure gone wrong, so I knew I wanted to do some special for them to say thank you. Together we have built a nursery school but this is just the beginning. The school now supports 25 pupils, providing them with a great education and a meal of porridge every day that they wouldn't otherwise get. We are now a U.K. registered charity and I am planning to visit the school next month to check on how things are going. We hope to provide more and more opportunities for the children of Chazuka in the years to come!"

As of 4th November 2019, Alex & the team achieved recognition as an official, registered U.K. charity, known as The Chazuka Project, which will provide operational, strategic and financial support to the school while also aiming to empower the children of Chazuka, and their families, to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence, to create life-changing opportunities for themselves.

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