You know that moment when you wake up and you're not exactly sure what time it is, what day it is, or where you are? Now imagine being in such a state and then hearing the sounds of waves crashing nearby and you're like "Hold up. What's going on? Where am I?"
That was me, Tawonga, a CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer, the first morning I woke up in my new community. You can imagine my panic at hearing the sounds of the waves when I had just woken up from a peaceful sleep... especially since I'm used to the peace and quiet I usually wake up to at home in Lilongwe. It took me a moment to gather my thoughts, find my bearings, and remember that I was at my site, in a new house, which happens to be very close to Lake Malawi.
After realizing again that I was no longer in the comfort of my home in Lilongwe, the nerves kicked in. Thoughts went through my head like, “What was I supposed to do all day? What was I supposed to bring the community members?” However, before I could completely lose it, my host sister, Lonje, knelt by the door and said "Asisi ndikupita ku nyanja tu, mufuna kupita nawo?" (Sister, I'm going to the lake, would you like to come along?). Of course I said yes! So I quickly got ready, met her outside, and we walked the short distance to the lake.
I sat by the beach and watched everything. The girls playing. The men and boys fishing. The women washing clothes and dishes. Every once and awhile the women would steal a glance at me while they whispered to each other "Ndi awotu alendo akubweretsa chitukuko aja." (There is the visitor that is bringing development.) I wasn't at all bothered by the whispers and what they were saying. It simply reminded me why I am here; to make a difference. And while the women are right about me being a visitor, they are wrong about who will be bringing the development. I am just the catalyst toward the change that is to come to this community, and they are the ones who will bring that change.
But I guess they have about ten months to realize that and so do you! So join me on this journey as I serve as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer in Malawi.
Until next time