Natalie D’Alotto’s Summer Service

Malawi’s Children’s Mission offers summer programs for high school students


Sarah Spires, Staff Writer

SHS junior Natalie D’Alotto expanded her knowledge and leadership during an eye-opening service trip this past summer.

D’Alotto ventured past the equator, volunteering to assist children in Malawi, Africa.  D’Alotto traveled with Malawi’s Children Mission (MCM) organization. MCM’s goal is to provide quality life services to children in Africa. She spent seventeen days in Africa doing a wide range of activities: ten days volunteering, five days traveling, and two days sightseeing. 

D’Alotto shared her daily morning routine while volunteering. The volunteers arrived at the MCM center around 8:30 a.m. She stated, “My favorite part of the day was in the mornings, because the kids would see the bus coming, and they would drop their basketballs or their jump ropes and come running to the bus.” 

On the first day, D’Alotto was “shocked about how difficult the language barrier was” and said, “the only way to break the barrier, we found, was to play games.” D’Alotto overcame this challenge by improvising. She began to teach the children songs and clapping games: Miss Mary Mack, Quack Diddly Oso, and Tarzan. In return, the children began to teach the volunteers games.

Although D’Alotto is back home in Scituate, she said the children often write to her about the games she taught them. In a letter from a young girl, Lucia, D’Alotto described, “she told me about how she still plays Tarzan with her friends–even after we left.” D’Alotto says establishing heartfelt friendships and connections was her “favorite part of the trip.” 

D’Alotto also experienced a classroom setting in Malawi, also known as “chalk-and-talk.” She mentions the difficulties faced during the school day regarding the lack of technology. Online games such as Gimkit aren’t available to them, so “it’s a lot harder to find interactive ways for the students to learn.” However, this lack of technology did not hinder interactive learning. During the school day, “giant inflatable dice” were used to help the students add and subtract numbers. 

Despite these positive experiences, not everything was lighthearted. D’Alotto experienced the reality of living in Malawi. Each volunteer was assigned two children who they spent most of their time with. As the trip progressed, D’Alotto said she learned about the children’s background. D’Alotto said, “They were the kinds of stories that were so horrible you didn’t even know how something like that could have happened.” Following these tragic stories, D’Alotto revealed that families “were living hand to mouth.” In other words, these families worked throughout the day and bought as much food as they could to feed the family. D’Alotto explained, “These families would have lived every day of their lives like this, and their kids would have followed, had they not enrolled in MCM.”

MCM provides clean food and water and guides children through the value of nutrition. MCM also provides education, healthcare, counseling, mental health practices, and other life skills–working to break the poverty cycle. While in Malawi, D’Alotto learned several powerful lessons: the most important, applying a support system to her life and becoming more resourceful. D’Alotto will no longer take these morals for granted.

D’Alotto shared a story of a family she knew who broke the “hand-to-mouth” lifestyle. The mother of this family worked astonishingly hard to provide a happy life for her children. She saved a small portion of the money she made each day from unreliable jobs such as transporting neighbors’ groceries. Each day, she saved a small amount, allowing her to begin her own donut business. Utilizing the resources around her, she successfully began her own business. D’Alotto has started to exercise these lessons in her own life; however, she recognizes the gap that still exists between her and Malawi: “I am saying these things from a place of privilege, so it looks very different for me than it does for the people in Malawi,” she commented.

D’Alotto often thinks of the friends she made throughout the trip and revisits her photo album from Malawi almost every day. Her greatest takeaway? D’Alotto responded: “I feel a little more grateful for the problems I have because at least I’m worried about watching a YouTube video rather than if I’m going to bed hungry.”

In D’Alatto’s opinion, giving back to the community is the greatest way to become an aware leader. D’Alotto recommends this trip to everyone and remembers it as the best part of her summer. For more information about MCM, visit their website: