My first thought of my community eight months ago was, "this is the middle of nowhere." This was because it is far from what you and I know to be a normal community. My community is, or was, what most describe as an area "forgotten" by the government of Malawi.
The infamous Embangweni area is roughly seven kilometers from Emchakachakeni, but the difference among education structures in these communities is appalling. Embangweni has eight well-funded schools (funded by the CCAP mission and the government of Malawi), while Emchakachakeni on the other hand has a primary school with dirt floors and community day secondary school (CDSS) without decent accommodation for teachers, any type of laboratory and no library. The CDSS is a small school, with two blocks and an office, but does have a beautiful basketball court donated by National Basketball Association Africa. This school serves 98 villages in Emchakachakeni, Thoza, and many other areas.
It was not hard to start serving in my community because everyone had already agreed that the two schools needed intervention way before I was placed in the community. So far, I have worked on two projects with the two schools in my community. The first project is the construction of four teachers' houses for both the primary and secondary school. Two of the four houses are almost ready for teachers to move in. The second project I am working on is a make-shift solar library for the secondary school. Emchakachakeni has no ESCOM power, with few households that can afford solar power. My project aimed to install solar power at the school so that students have light to study in the evening. Even though there is no structure for a library, the community identified a classroom block as an asset that could be used as a library after school hours, and now the students are currently using solar power to study for their MSCE exams.
People outside Emchakachakeni have now started paying attention to the transformation in the community. Recently Emchakachakeni hosted a sports tournament with five schools participating. The large crowd in attendance was amazed by the solar power and the beautiful teachers' houses at the school. They asked and found out CorpsAfrica is working with Emchakachakeni community and now they want their own CorpsAfrica Volunteer in their community. For what used to be the middle of nowhere, Emchakachakeni is now the middle of somewhere.