Being in a community where you need to learn a new language and interact with people you barely know, it is important to find new ways to cope and adapt. I have had tough moments where I doubted myself and felt like quitting. It was during these moments that I relied on the little things that put a smile on my face to overcome my apprehensions.
Firstly, I am learning how to bake a chigumu (local cake) using a mbaula (local stove). This is particularly exciting for me because baking is one of my favorite hobbies and I have always used an electric stove. I am also learning to prepare local foods I have never cooked before. Secondly, I have partially adopted my neighbors’ two cats. I love pets hence the daily visits and snuggles from these furry friends puts me at ease and make me feel less homesick. Thirdly, I volunteer at my community’s health center. The sense of helpfulness I get after every shift puts a smile on my face. Thirdly, I have a personal kitchen garden. When I cultivate a variety of crops, I look at each product I get from the garden as an accomplishment. Fourthly, I am in constant communication with my fellow volunteers. The calls and chats are so therapeutic and they are definitely something to smile about. After every call and chat, I feel motivated to continue being a CorpsAfrica volunteer. Lastly but not all, a friendly greeting from a community member always lifts my spirits. I believe a greeting should never be underestimated because they are usually conversation starters and welcoming.
These little things that make me smile might not be extravagant but they are something. As I embark on a new phase with my community of project identification, project proposal writing and all the works, I leave you with the words of Andy Rooney, “If on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness”.