Paul’s Experience in Malawi

Planet Aid Manager-in-Training-turned-Operations-Manager Paul Titterington has been engaged in service from an early age.  The drive to help out those less fortunate started when Paul was a Boy Scout, and after a trip to Ecuador in 2007, he decided that he wanted to work with an organization that makes a difference internationally.  

When he graduated from Kansas State University in 2008, his job search brought him to Planet Aid in Kansas City, where he enrolled in the Manager in Training program and ran the operation’s schools program for a year.  The Manager-in-Training program enables participants to work at a Planet Aid location in the US for one year before embarking on a 3-month-long service mission to an English speaking African country.

“Being an MIT in Kansas City was a very unique experience, besides running environmental education and African studies programs and I was able to learn a lot of intricate details of the workings of a great international non-profit.”

After a year of learning the ins-and-outs of the clothes collection business and giving presentations to local students, Paul was off to Malawi.  Malawi is a small landlocked nation, sandwiched between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.  It is one of the most densely populated and least developed countries in the world. 

In Malawi, Paul worked with Planet Aid’s sister organization, Development Aid from People to People – Malawi, to carry out community development work. 

In a typical week, he taught an English class at the grade schools, and gave world culture presentations touching on aspects of the United States such as politics, history, sports and holidays. Once a week, Paul would wake at 6 a.m. to visit some of the 22 neighboring preschools, the nearest of which was a two-hour hike away. One more day was spent out in the community talking with school leaders about how Planet Aid could help while they were there. Weekends were split between a teacher training college and a partnership office working with local Malawian non-profits and other community empowerment organizations.

“We wanted to help the people realize that we were a different kind of aid organization,” he said. “We weren’t just giving money. We wanted to provide education so that they could grow in the future. So much of what they have has been brought to them and given to them, and so what we want to do is break that cycle so that people can actually learn something and then build and develop their own country.”

During his time there, Paul quickly came to agree with Malawi’s reputation as “The Warm Heart of Africa” through the kindness, generosity and optimism of even its poorest citizens.

“The people in the villages where we would walk through had absolutely nothing, yet they really were the nicest people in the world,” he said, describing an elderly woman who offered Titterington and a companion a plate of rice one day. “It probably cost her a quarter of her salary to give that to us, but she did it just to be hospitable, to have some conversation, and so that we would have enough to eat. Their generosity is … unbelievable.”

Upon his return Paul was offered a position as the Operations Manager of a start-up Planet Aid operation in Dallas/Fort Worth, TX.  Paul recently launched Planet Aid’s 15th location in the USA. 

“Planet Aid is a very dynamic organization!  The things I have learned while working here will not only help me in my professional career for a long time to come, but also have helped me grow tremendously as a person.  I am very glad that I took the first step and accepted a job with Planet Aid as an MIT.”

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