Paraglider and KEEN Ambassador Nick Greece not only combined work with having the time of his life, but he’s also committed to giving back to the communities where he flies. What began as a paragliding trip to the Republic of Malawi in southeast Africa two years ago turned into a call to action for Greece and some fellow members of the Cloudbase Foundation, a non-profit organization made up of paraglider and hang-glider pilots who are committed to giving back to the communities where they fly. They had an idea of helping the people of Malawi get back on their feet by teaching them how to fly.
Malawi is one of the world’s least developed and most densely populated countries. With an economy that is heavily based in agriculture and a largely rural population, the Malawian government profoundly depends on outside aid to meet development needs. Building and expanding the economy, improving education, health care, environmental protection and becoming financially independent are all major challenges the Malawian government faces. Several programs have been developed since 2005 that focus on these issues. Malawi also has a low life expectancy and high infant mortality rate due to a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and this drains on the labor force and government expenditures.
Nick Greece knows a beautiful landscape for paragliding when he sees one. Just this past July, Greece won a historic US Paragliding Open after a classic competition that saw the longest ever successful task set in a paragliding event. While in Malawi a couple of years ago, Greece knew that the picturesque terrain would be a prime spot for adventure tourism. Although there was a problem with this as there wasn’t anyone in Malawi to pilot the tandem paragliders that could attract travelers to the area.
In order to resolve this problem, Nick and fellow members of the Cloudbase Foundation traveled to Malawi to work with Godfrey Masauli, a local pilot, to train the first Malawian pilots in the surrounding community in the art of tandem flying and launch a flying-specific adventure tourism business that will help create jobs, increase tourism and support schools in the area. Godfrey Masauli is a man full of positive energy that has quite the story about how he became a pilot. Make sure to check out the documentary The Boy Who Flies, and that will give you even more of an idea of the beauty of Malawi, the people and Godfrey’s story.
So if you find yourself in Malawi, Africa, be sure to seek out the efforts that have been put into a fantastic adventure tourism business started by an incredible team of ambitious individuals who find ways to give back to their community through a sport they love.