“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands- One for helping yourself and the other for helping others”- Audrey Hepburn
My name is Silvester H.C. Kunkeyani, commonly referred to as Ada Silvester, and I am a part of the second cohort of CorpsAfrica Volunteers serving in Malawi. I am one of 21 current volunteers in Malawi, and our goal is to continue the mission of combating poverty in many areas across Africa. Alongside the other African Leaders in my cohort, I was trained in Human Centered Design and Asset Based Community Development to initiate community led-development with the community I am serving. As a Volunteer with CorpsAfrica, my aim is to help my community in discovering their full potential, and using whatever assets are already available to them to further develop themselves and where they are living.
As I begin my first blog post, I want you to know as a reader, that I plan on using this platform to keep in touch with you as I embark on this memorable journey through my CorpsAfrica Service, which is likely to change my life. Using this blog, I will be publishing my monthly updates on the progress of various development projects that together with the people of Mkwachi Village and in collaboration with CorpsAfrica partners, my community and I will be initiating. Feel free to contribute your insights in the comment section.
So how did Silvester end up being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer? Well, my journey to this endeavor started with a phone call from one of our CorpsAfrica Malawi Staff on 24th September 2017. She called to tell me that I had been successful in the interviews that I attended on in August. Once our cohort was selected, which was made up of 18 Malawians, 2 Moroccans and 1 Senegalese Volunteer; we all attended a Pre-Service Training from October to November. At this training we received knowledge on various topics to better prepare us for our one year of service in our respective sites. Then, on November 13th, we had a well decorated swear-in ceremony at the beautiful Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe. What an event this was!! It was graced by different people from all walks of life; a definite moment to remember.
A day later I was off to the northern part of Malawi where I will be spending my year of service as a Volunteer. I travelled with Dingaan, another CorpsAfrica Volunteer and my closest site mate, and a team of other volunteers who were going to serve in a nearby district. We left Lilongwe around 9:00am and many hours later at the exact time of 5:48pm, we arrived at my community. To be frank I had a lot of expectations about my site, one of which was to learn the Tonga language, and more about the Tonga Culture, which I have already started doing. What really excited me most was that my village is about a 10-minute walk to the lake and I figured I’d be going there every day.
When we arrived in my village I was introduced to my host family which is the family of Senior Group Village Headman (GVH). They were really happy with my arrival and they welcomed me with happy faces, full of charming smiles!! I felt special with such a big welcome. Dinner was served later in the night, which was Kondowole (a local meal made from cassava flour) with fish! That night the Senior GVH also gave me a full introduction of his village, key people in the community, the different organizations that are working in his area, and also some of the cultures in the area. When it was time for bed I was shown my room and I slept through the night.
The first week of my stay in the village was all about meeting and introducing myself to the different people in the community, as well explaining to them what CorpsAfrica is all about and how it works. I introduced myself to the Health Centre, and the Primary and Secondary School in the Village. The Secondary School is the only one found in the area, but is harboring students from nearby villages as well as villages as far as 15km away. I was surprised to learn that the Secondary School only has 3 teachers and one Peace Corp Volunteer doing all the educating at the school. The Primary School was no different in terms of resources. Many students were learning under trees because the school has only 3 classrooms, one of which is used as the teachers’ office. The whole school has a total of 8 desks that are used by a few Standard 8 pupils. Even with all the things that surprised me, I made a lot of friends at the Health Center, Secondary and Primary school who have already seen me as their role model.
In my second week, I asked the chief to organize a community meeting where he mobilized people from the village to attend. At this meeting I introduced my capacity as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, what CorpsAfrica is all about, how it began, its mission, and how its goal is to work with a community as the center. It was a very fruitful meeting. Many people came to attend and they asked a lot of questions in order to have a better understanding of my role as Volunteer.
Finally, guess what has happened? Oh yes, I have been swimming at the lake, and my expectations have come true. The hot temperatures here can be emotional sometimes, EEEISHH! Since I’ve been in my new community I have never covered myself with a blanket or a sheet, it’s way too hot for that!
Watch out next month, as I continue to give you updates on whatever projects will be happening in my area as I continue to serve as CorpsAfrica volunteer. Last but not least enjoy some of the pictures from different functions and places. Thank you all!!