“Instead of putting others in their place, put yourself in their place.” – Amnish Proverb
The day of departure to my site had arrived. All sorts of iterations of what my site would be like ran through my mind. I was very excited and anxious simultaneously, wondering where I would spend the next 365 days of my life. I kept on asking myself, “Is it really necessary for me to live in the community I will serve?” As much as I understand the significance of community engagement for sustainable community development, I truly never recognized the importance of living in my community during my service. It has been two months now since I moved into my community, and I would love to share with you some of the amazing benefits of the CorpsAfrica model.
During my integration period, I have mostly been facilitating community meetings to identify the challenges faced and find possible solutions to the problems. The catchment area is quite large, and I sometimes cycle for over 18 kilometers to and from the meeting places. As I travel, I get to experience the long distances that children walk to access education and other community members travel to access water and health care services among others. In meetings, I have a chance to better understand the challenges that the community is facing, as I have ample time to tackle with the community how such problems can be addressed locally.
Living and interacting with the community members has helped me to understand the people and this certainly impacts my ability to communicate with them effectively. It has also ensured that trust is established between myself and the community members as we chat and share our different experiences in life.
Residing at my site has definitely moved me out of my comfort zone. It is a new environment, full of new experiences and so much more to learn from. I have had the opportunity to work alongside a CorpsAfrica Alumnus on a World Connect classroom block construction project. Upon completion, the classroom block is expected to create a conducive learning and teaching environment for 120 learners at the school. The work experience is advancing my project management skills. I have found myself facilitating meetings with community leaders, managing construction procurement, executing budget analyses, writing weekly reports, and blogs, and many more. Some of which, if one required my input 3 months ago, I would honestly rather be skeptical about.
Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” As I continue serving at my site, I feel there is a lot more that I can give to my community whilst learning and sharing my experiences for sustainable community development, concurrently, advancing my career prospects and growing personally. And that is the beauty of CorpsAfrica.