The 15th of November marked a whole new beginning for me. This new chapter involved leaving all the things that were so close to my heart. Family, electricity, running water, 3G internet, TV, and my comfy bed, were just a few of the things I left behind. Instead of all the comforts I was used to, I now had dusty roads, more dust, bad network reception, no water close by, brown land (not much vegetation around) and no electricity, and it made me sick to my stomach.
Two weeks I have been here now, but on my first day I tried to find reasons to love this place. I cannot lie; it was very difficult to find these reasons. I felt like I was being punished for something, but I was not aware of what it was (yes it was that serious). However, three days later and I was embracing the life, making new friends and calling my new community my home. If there is one thing I have learnt during my few days here, it is that every place has a pot of Gold buried within the chaos around it.
As I integrate with the people here, I discover determination and hard work. I see people doing their best to bring themselves out of poverty. I met Mr. Chisamba and his wife, a couple who learnt how to establish tree nurseries and now are able to acquire and sell various trees and fruits. According to Mr. Banda, who is the Forest Assistant in the community, “Mr. Chisamba is a role model in his village.” Over the past years Mr. Chisamba has sold enough trees to make enough money to build a good house. A house built from burnt bricks, with iron sheets and cemented floors. Mrs. Chisamba, who believes women must take an active role in the family, as well as in the community, has her own Mphonda (a type of tree) nursery and expects that after the rains fall, she will have enough money to sell the trees and generate some income. This is what I call putting the Asset Based Community Design into practice. Mr. and Mrs. Chisamba have even agreed to share me some trees to plant at my new house, and teach me a thing or two about having and sustaining a tree nursery.
Another thing I have found to make me happy in the village is chatting with the youths. When I speak with them I encounter a happy generation with big dreams and high hopes for their future. Despite the high levels of illiteracy, school drop outs, and early marriages, there are still a few who are beams of light for their community. These few have not only made it to secondary school, but have successfully passed their Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) exceptionally well and are hoping to be taken to one of the Universities in Malawi. One of them that I speak of is my friend Ulia. This young man is very optimistic and comes over to ask for guidance in making better and informed decisions for his future.
So if you ask me whether I would rather be in town, in my comfortable home, or here, I would definitely choose here. What I have seen, the people I have met, and the desire to make a difference gives me hope that my service will be fabulous.