Volunteer Denis says he has no regrets after having to isolate for 11 days
A Borderer who travelled to Malawi on a charitable trip has found himself having to isolate at an Edinburgh hotel for 11 nights after the country was put onto the UK's ‘red list’ just two days before his return.
Innerleithen's Denis Robson is having to shell out the £2,400 cost of the hotel stay out of his own pocket, but he says he’d do it all again.
Denis explained: “We have a Rotary twinning partnership between Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair and the Rotary Club of Limbe in Malawi, and we have fundraised to build a new incinerator in the village of Thondwe to tackle their waste management by building a new incinerator.
“Our communities have a long-standing link which was started by the church 12 years ago and it now encompasses the wider community, with St Ronan’s Primary School, the health centre, the rotary club and several individuals becoming involved.
"The previous incinerator had become a health risk, and kids were playing around it.
"I had travelled across on behalf of all the partners here to help open it, as well as review our programmes for 2021 and set the scene for what we are doing next year.
"Malawi is a wonderful country full of wonderful people. At the opening of the incinerator, there were Scottish and Malawian flags everywhere and there was a lot of whooping from the locals.
"Through the church, we’ve also raised money to buy a bike for the church pastor so he can go round and do his visits in the community.
“Next year, we will be working on a shelter for malaria patients.
"We are also looking at improving the school library, putting in a solar panel so they can connect to wifi and buy more books for it."
Travelling abroad these days does come with an element of risk, as Denis found out to his cost.
He said: “Two days before I was due to return, the UK Government put Malawi into the red list.
"There were no reports of the Omicron variant in Malawi, and indeed, very few Covid cases at all.
"I tested negative before flying home, and I’ve tested negative here, but I need to stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Edinburgh for 11 nights. It’s a fact of life, but I have no regrets as the trip was so successful.”