help2kids goes to the Lake of Stars Music Festival
This year help2kids was selected to participate as a local NGO at Lake of the Stars Music festival in Nkopola, Malawi, and promote its cause to over 5000 music lovers from all corners of the world. On the 26th of September, Thomas Hart, the help2kids marketing manager, left Dar es Salaam and embarked on the 2000 km journey down to south Malawi that our volunteers often do. My mission: to promote help2kids to an international audience; to create awareness of our projects in Malawi that empower children in stress with education, food, shelter and a loving environment; and to have fun listening to some great music.
The Lake of Stars music festival is a music festival like no other in Africa. It is a three- day music festival, based on the shores of Lake Malawi, that plays live international and African music under the African sun and glittering stars of the milky way that light up the lake at night. The festival features local artists from Malawi, Africa as well as the rest of the world and provides travelers and Malawians alike with the opportunity to enjoy incredible live music in an exotic and beautiful location. Will Jameson founded the music festival in 2004 to raise money for a developing economy, help to promote Malawi as a tourist destination, and expose Malawian artists to international crowds. The festival also aims to help the local villages, running outreach projects that bring ordinary Malawians (for whom the £45 weekend ticket price is a small fortune) into the fold. Since then the festival has reached more than 200 million people through international and local media coverage, and generated over $3.25 million towards the Malawi economy.
The journey down to Nkopola in southern Malawi took longer than expected due to a blow out and a puncture to a spare tyre on the 4×4 I was traveling in with some friends. Thus I only reached the festival on the Friday night, missing the first day of the festival. However, I did get to see the beautiful landscape of Northern Malawi with its rolling mountains and secret beaches on the shores of Lake Malawi. On the Saturday, as the sun rose up from the depths of the lake and lit up the campsite and festival grounds with a rolling mist of pinks and oranges, I got the help2kids promotional table ready for the remaining two days ahead. The help2kids table was situated in the craft and food market behind the two main stages situated on the beach of Nkopola. The market had its own stage where choirs of children, supported by local and international NGO’s, sang their hearts and local Malawian bands grooved out Indie melodies to the passing crowds all day long. With this stage bustling live music all day, and the crowds of hungry music lovers buying and eating delicious gourmet food from the outdoor restaurants, the market was a great place for help2kids to promote our work in Malawi. During the Saturday and Sunday, help2kids was able to network with a number of local NGO’s also present at the festival, and was able to provide information to over 100 people and provide on our organization and the projects we are involved in. The last two days were highly successful and help2kids can’t wait to come back to our promotional table next year.
While I manned the help2kids table in the craft and food market, another help2kids staff member was busy volunteering as part of the festival’s outreach team. help2kids Malawi Volunteer coordinator, Amy, volunteered her services to the festival, where she assisted at the ticketing gates and took visitors to local orphanages in nearby Chipoka village. This enabled tourists to understand the difficult realities of life in rural Malawi, and pass on gifts such as books and clothes. Amy was a great ambassador for help2kids at the festival, and had, fun time assisting where she could and listening to so great music.
The event as a music festival was also highly successful and lived up to its reputation of being one of the top music festivals in the world to visit. The music both international and local was electric and the people were friendly and lively, creating a great atmosphere to such a beautiful location. Mafikizolo, the headline act at the festival, blew everyone one off their feet and had everyone singing to their lyrics and grooving to their moves. The Reason (a hard hitting South African rapper) provided the hip hop fans with entertainment, while Stanley Odd (a Scottish band) on the Saturday night performed majestic vocals with fast paced lyrically rythms that got the crowd jumping up and down to the beats. However, the Black Missionaries were definitely the favourites of the festival. with their electronic reggae that lit up the night’s sky and got the crowd grooving and jamming to the backdrop of a glittering lake full of stars. The surprise package of the festival was a solo artist called George who sang beautiful and mellow acoustic melodies of Africa. This was one emerging African artist to keep a look out for and follow. Most listeners agreed that he is Africa’s very own Ben Howard or Jack Johnson. On the final night, the festival closed with the final act by a talented female DJ called Goldierocks from Britain who turned up the volume and got the crowd pumping for the very last time before everyone headed back home. She was grand.
The Lake of Stars music festival presented help2kids with a great opportunity to engage with local Malawians and international travelers on a promotional level, and network with other NGO’s doing great work in Malawi. For next year, 2015, help2kids is aiming to go even bigger and bolder at the Lake of Stars festival. The organization is aiming to hold a fundraising event at the festival, be closer to the action near the main stages and beach, and wanting you (future volunteers) to be apart of this amazing experience and festival. So if you are thinking of volunteering with help2kids and wanting to travel Malawi and Tanzania, why not volunteer with the organization during the months of September and October next year and attend the festival with us. By attending the festival as help2kids volunteers, you get to help raise awareness and funds to send children from the primary schools in Lifuwu (Malawi) and Mbezi Beach (Dar es Salaam) to secondary school, and watch great African and international musicians live on a dazzling beach looking over a star lit lake.