Ten months down the line, wow!! Seems it was only yesterday since I became a CorpsAfrica/Malawi 2nd cohort Volunteer serving in southern part on Nkhatabay district, north of Malawi. How time flies! Well, Volunteering is best known to many as an act done for the benefit of others, but that’s not to say you can’t take away a lesson or two along the way. The six most invaluable lessons i have learnt from my volunteering experience include:
1. EVERYONE HAS A STORY
The ten months I have stayed in my community has been full of adventure. I have met very unique people with a story to tell. These are stories of who they are and how they came to be where they are. While it’s important to remember that each person has their own unique narrative, it’s just as important to respect, appreciate, and take the time to understand this narrative. Volunteering has taught me a very important skill of being empathetic while appreaciating every individual's unique narrative of their stories.
2. SMALL CHANGES CAN HAVE A BIG IMPACT
As a volunteer, I have come to the understanding that simple actions can have a big impact in the lives of people who do not have much. Listening to the stories of different people brings much deeper connections. Donating clothes or a tablet of soap might not seem enough but I have seen how people can be appreciative of the little things we consider not much.
3. SMILES ARE UNIVERSAL
While the fear of meeting new people and experiencing a new culture could be real at times, what I have come to learn is that smiles are universal. If you’ve a simple smile, you can permeate language, cultural, economic, or other barriers and can relay the message that you care. When in doubt, flash those pearly whites.
Volunteering experience has taught me that in everything appreciation with gratitude is key. A deep appreciation of all that I have in life and helping those in need is a firm reminder of what really matters - like family, friends, and health.
5. VOLUNTEERING IS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
As a volunteer, I have learnt many things and skills that are key for my personal and professional growth and development. I have Developed new skills, discovered new passions, gained new insights about myself and the world around me.
6. ONCE A VOLUNTEER, ALWAYS A VOLUNTEER
Volunteering has taught me that the reason i have two hands is to use the other for helping myself while the other is for serving others. The things i have learnt will forever be a part and parcel of my life. The greatest lesson i have learnt is that if one thinks serving others is below him/her then such a person need to know that leadership is way beyond him or her.