Written by Vanessa Chimutu, CorpsAfrica Volunteer Malawi
When I first came to my site in February 2016, I was nervous, taking myself for my family and friends. It was so hard in the beginning to adjust a to the new environment. But with the assistance from my host family, the school, as well as the community members itself, it got better. From the start of my service, I was skeptical on how we are to manage staying in the community, but little by little I began to understand the community and the customs of the place I was living in. With time, I formed friendships through the interactions with different people. I began to feel more comfortable and worked on projects more efficiently.
From working with the girls at Nsala secondary school, to the children at the nursery school, I have so many memorable experiences with the community. I truly believe the projects done in my community would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the strength and support from the CorpsAfrica staff, which pushed me to make everything work. The nursery school proved to be the biggest challenge, we ran out of materials and did not have transport to get more materials. But with a lot of determination, a lot of the challenges were removed and it was a success to see the people light up in the community after finishing the project.
I am very thankful, for the opportunity to attest to my abilities, and also to explore and grow professionally. It feels so unreal to be finally finished with service, all I can say is thank you CorpsAfrica for believing in me and helping me cross the finish line.
Written by Vanessa Chimutu, CorpsAfrica Volunteer in Malawi
Now that I have about a month to finish my service as a volunteer with CorpsAfrica, I sat down and started to reflect on everything that has happened during my stay in lambulilra village. The most exciting part about being here was the introduction of the kids at the nursery school to me. It was such an amazing moment to see their beautiful smiles and faces light up being. And after a lot of research and community meetings, it turned out I would be also working a lot with these wonderful souls in a nursery finishing project.
The reason why the community and I decided to work on finishing the nursery school, was because there was a major dropout rate at the school due to the condition of the school, lack of a cement made children sit on a dusty floor, where they were vulnerable to a lot of illness such as coughs and colds. With so many reasons in play, we decided to finish construction of the nursery school. Thus far the first phase of the project was success.
My service has had its milestones, from the girls’ chats at nsala community day secondary school, to the HCD Training with the Village development committee and also teaching at the school. Bu the most exciting thing that l look forward to is to see the final construction touches of the nursery school project done. Despite the hiccups such as the rains coming sooner than expected and continuing the project at a later stage, I definitely believe this school will be finished and will attract more children to come learn at the school, as the goal and main aim is to enhance early childhood education since it gives a strong basis for primary school level.
Written by Vanessa Chimutu, CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer
Never would I have thought that I would hike the High Atlas mountains of Morocco, but thanks to the All County Conference held in Morocco this happened.
Firstly, the All Country Conference (ACC) is a conference that brings CorpsAfrica Volunteers from Morocco, Senegal and Malawi together, to share social, cultural and project experiences from their home countries. And yes it was such an honour to be among the first Volunteers to attend the ACC.
Out of all the experiences l had in Morocco, for me, I think the experience I will never forget is that of the High Atlas Mountains. Mostly because it was a roller coaster of different emotions and feelings.
When I first was told that we were going to hike the Atlas mountains, I thought it was the cliché thing where we would hike more for leisure purposes. But to my surprise, we were actually hiking all the way to a Volunteers' site in the Atlas. I was excited to see this place of beauty as I have heard so much about it.
The first hike to the village where we were meant to stay was an adventure for me. I got to see different land forms and landscapes, there was such so much beauty surrounding me, it was unbelievable and despite how tired I was, this made me push forward in order for me to see the wonder that would await me at the place we were meant to stay.
I was amazed by how people manage to live in such secluded places, the positioning of the houses scared me so much, it's really amazing what people can do in different places around the world. Speaking of the weather, it was very undecided. The first day it seemed to be very hot, as it went from being mildly cold with some showers in the end.
I honestly had the most frightening experience when we went to see the water pipes up the Atlas for a project that was done by one of the previous Volunteers at the site- the initiative to have tap accessible water for the community was such a great idea and most of all sustainable as the community would be at the front of making this happen.
The climb up to the location of where the water tanks were was quite the experience as we had to climb on a pathless path, and moreover I was in my slippers! So this made my climb difficult and frustrating. Luckily, a member of the community who was more familiar with the place helped me to get through this as he held my hand. From getting to the top where we had the water pipes and sinking in that amazing view was breathtaking.
The last time I hiked I was mentally prepared for anything and honestly this time around, the move to Hiba's site was an adventure. I saw different landscapes for a start and the most exciting part was all the apples I got to eat throughout the journey, and getting there and seeing how far she went with the success of her nursery school project gave me such a motivation to go through and have my project completed in time. I will never forget my experience in the High Atlas Mountains, I got to appreciate the culture, hospitality, and the friendliness of the people. Despite the too much hiking, the three days we spent in the high Atlas mountains were unforgettable.
Written by Vanessa Chimuto, CorpsAfrica Volunteer in Malawi
Reposted from veezinsight
I can’t say am overwhelmed but am I am definitely proud of my community. When I first had the idea about doing a training in my community it was because of the little frustrations I was facing due to the lack of understanding and communication break down between them and I. Of course I can say, little by little, they started understanding and getting the whole reason as to why I was here. But, I still felt the need to do a training on Leadership and Human Centered Design (HCD) for them to get a little more perspective. I must say, for me, that seemed as though it was a far fetched idea, but as of the 25th of August 2016, this idea became a reality.
The training involved the members of the Village Development Committee (the committee which I work most closely with aside from others) and also included Mr. Emas Potolani and Ms. Sarah Kazira who assisted in the facilitation process. The training started around 9am in the morning and ended at 4pm in the afternoon and was held at Nsala community day secondary school.
I would lie if I said I was not nervous, because I was. This was my first time hosting and also facilitating a training. The first session was basically on some of the tools in Human Centered Design facilitated by Emas. Here, we focused on the most prominent tool, the Innovators Compass. I must say, he did a pretty good job in translating it into Chichewa (our national local language). This part of the training took me back to Chongoni Dedza where I first was introduced to HCD by Garrett Mason. It was a very interactive session. We talked about how the Innovators Compass guides us into development that not only centers on people but also shows people how to realize and bring this development forward. I remember the most exciting part was when certain community members talked about how it is so true that as people we do not see clearly, and pointed out that discovering observations and seeing with a third eye helps us Innovators to understand why certain things are happening and the reason behind this. They finally understood the concepts of a community empowering it’s self and finding solutions to their problems. It was quite interesting to see how the community members were excited about the concept of Human Centered Design.
With the session done, we went for a lunch break which was an hour and afterwards, we went into the second session which was about leadership. This session was facilitated by myself. I remember telling my community members about a certain time where I went to an interview and the strangest thing happened… instead of being asked questions, they made us play a game were we had to make a 3 dimensional feature of a dog using only one hand. This really surprised them as the essence of this was to teach us how to work together as a group. We discussed about how each member of the village development committee was chosen into being a member of the committee, each member talked about the qualities that they have which are seen from the people in the village and hence why they were put in the village development team. We further went on to discuss about the leadership shield. This is a shield that every leader has to have as it helps to direct you towards your success and the success of your community. We divided our shield into four parts, two of your leadership skills, the part of your current work that you like best, two values that influence how you work with others, and a recent success or accomplishment. The essence of doing this activity was for the group to see their potential and strengths as well as share those with the rest of the group as they are very important for good group dynamics on community leaders. We closed the session on leadership with an evaluation form on how one ranks themselves with qualities of being a community leaders.
Following this session was the last session facilitated by Sarah, on a section know as dimensions of community empowerment. The aim of the section was to give the Village Development Committee tools on how they can work more efficiently and effectively with members of the community. They were shown how they could do this if they could rate themselves and their community in terms of Confidence, Inclusiveness, Organization, Co-operative, and Influence. They discussed what happens when these dimensions are ignored as well as the benefits of addressing the dimensions. It was quite an interactive session and before we knew it time was against us.
Throughout the time I started planning my training until the day it was finally done, I can say I have learnt so much about my Community, my fellow Volunteers, as well as myself. I have learnt the importance of collaborating with my fellow Volunteers as it brings more effectiveness to the project and also helps gets things done at the right time. I have also learnt that this training has also helped my community members to understand more about the projects we are doing. I can confidentiality say that the training has helped to have our projects move quickly. Lastly, I have learnt that I am a person who doesn’t give up quickly, despite all the uncertainties at the beginning of my service and to see where I am now. I am happy being a member of this community.
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