"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." -- Soren Kierkegaard
Lately I have been thinking about my journey as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer and how it has impacted my life. Volunteering in community development work has its own great moments that make every moment you spend with the community worth it. However, it also has its low moments, which can overwhelm you and make you doubt yourself. It is therefore very important to often take a pause and reflect on yourself and your community. This does not serve only as a source of motivation by reminding you why you decided to become a Volunteer, but it also allows you to appreciate the work you are doing and make improvements where necessary. Thus, it helps you to continuously grow both personally and professionally.
I was especially thinking about when I first began this journey. About how motivated and excited I was to use all the amazing ideas that I learned during my training to facilitate change in my community. About the moments when I doubted if I could really inspire my community members to take it upon themselves to bring about development. My predecessors did some amazing work and left a legacy that scared me to live up to. And, of course, I was confronted with the reality of being in the community and putting the ideas I had learned during my pre-service training into practice. To put it simply; I was frightened. But I then decided to just do the best that I can and here I am now.
A couple of things have helped me reach this far:
- First, the people in my community. Contrary to my initial assumption, I did not have a hard time trying to get people to work with me using the CorpsAfrica approach to community development (Human-Centered Design). I will confess that my work was made easier by my predecessors who introduced the approach to the community and thus people already had an idea of what I was doing. Furthermore, the people continuously motivated me with their hard work and dedication to making things better for themselves, and with the energy that they invest in the activities I do with them. They have made me realize that communities are ready and willing to do things for themselves, they just lack the opportunity and proper support.
- Second, my CorpsAfrica family. The CorpsAfrica staff have been very supportive of both my personal and professional well-being. They have exposed me to a whole new world where I can challenge myself while holding my hand through it all. I cannot even begin to explain the kind of help my fellow Volunteers have been to me. There is no other group of people that I would rather share this journey with and I look forward to sharing our amazing experiences as we continue our service.
- Thirdly, my family and friends. Their belief in my abilities even when I doubt myself pushes me to work hard at realising my potential. The emotional support they provide me nourishes my mental stability, which in turn allows me to cope with any challenges that I face when doing my work in my community.