I was born and raised in the northern region of Malawi, while my family hails from Machinga district in the southern region of Malawi. When I am not in my CorpsAfrica community, I live in Chinamwali, Zumba with my family. I am the second born in a family of six children. I also grew up in a large extended family. My parents accommodated their relatives and I even remember living with 15 people in one house. My family has played a big role in building me to be what I am today. I am also the only child who is a graduate in my family. I feel like I have a big role to play in transforming my family by helping them follow my path. I resonate with Tim McGraw’s lyric in his song, 'Humble and Kind,' that says, "When you get where you are going, don't forget to turn back around and help the next one in line."
All of these people taught me how to love and care for others. Family members and different communities I was a part of were all crucial in making me who I am today. My parents encouraged me to work hard and never give up. My father taught me to not be afraid of challenges because those moments will bring out the real me. And I emulated my mother, whose courage has pushed me to do more in life and not easily give up despite the struggles faced. I was also taught the importance of self-discipline. I learned that communities are different and they have different things that they value. To live well in those communities, you have to discipline yourself and respect others regardless of who they are. I learned that you cannot always please everyone, but if you respect everyone you will live at peace.
Growing up for me was like any other child who was raised in an average family in Malawi. I had a lot of things to explore as a child and had a lot of time to play, at the same time I liked being indoors and having time for myself. I had the freedom and support that I needed from loving parents. My childhood was fun, and I have fond memories to look back to.
Do you have a favorite memory of your childhood?
One favorite memory of my childhood that comes clear to mind is a game I would play. We had a small garden in front of our house where sweet potatoes were growing. Each day after primary school I would come home and teach the potato leaves what I learned that day. If my students (the potato leaves) misbehaved during my class I would send them out of the classroom. I was a very serious teacher! I would stand there for what could have been hours teaching the leaves everything day after day. I was doing this to remind myself of what I had learnt in class and it was the easiest way of studying.
What are your dreams?
I was once told that dreams are free and we should never let ourselves limit them. I am someone who aims high. I want to be able to inspire others while I show myself that I can do my best and take on challenges. I want to do better for myself and for others so we can all do more and have a more full life. I am a Malawian and am proud of my country. I have dreams for a better Malawi and I know that it is possible. I believe in the power of change and that change starts with me. I can use my knowledge as an element of change. I want people to live a better life and focus us on building on what is helpful and profitable. I want to make these dreams possible by helping people understand and realize the potential they already have in themselves.
I know we can make the world a better place to live in. Everyone has dreams and mine are not unlike many other peoples’: I want a better world to live in. I dream of a world that is free from poverty, a world that prioritizes the rural communities in development and a world that gives everyone a chance to bring out their potential.
Finish this sentence: Success means ... not leaving anyone behind in the process of development.
How did you become involved with CorpsAfrica?
I found out about CorpsAfrica through a college friend, Chancy Simba, who is an alumni of CorpsAfrica. Having asked Chancy about the organization, I was excited to join a group of young people eager to change their communities. I thought, “this is the place I have to be.” I have a heart for people and loved every volunteer opportunity I did during college. I became aware of life in the villages and in the prison cells. I learned that I could reach out a hand or a smile and offer hope to the people I worked with, that I could help ease the struggle they faced. I realize that the life that I have is not only for myself, but that I need to live for others as well. I have also realized that if we do not step out of our comfort zone and reach out to the people that need our help, we are denying them the happiness that they deserve. When I received notice that I had been selected to serve with CorpsAfrica I could not hide the joy in me, I was so happy and I wanted to share the news with everyone I met. I was on my bed when I got the email, and I went out to tell my next door neighbor about the news, I texted my dad and my family and they were all happy to hear the news. I couldn't wait to start serving.
Tell us a bit about your CorpsAfrica Community.
My site is in Mzimba District in the northern region of Malawi. It is called Chiondwe and is located in the south of the district. There are approximately 5,000 people in my community and they are always so welcoming. My first days of integration made me forget that I was far from home. I made friends with everyone from the Chiefs to the general members of the community. My host family looked out for me and made sure I was able to make friends with great people. I love the environment, the green vegetation, the livestock, rivers, and quietness of the community. I love their culture and their way of doing things. What surprised me most about my community was the consistent enthusiasm and eagerness to pursue every project that they proposed. They are still always checking whether the proposals submitted have been approved so that they can start working on projects. They are ready to work and change their community.
What is your primary project with your community?
My community's primary project is the renovation of a health clinic building. The project's main focus is renovating the "under-five" clinic in Chiondwe. The clinic services are conducted outside the church as the clinic is not physically usable. The clinic had fallen apart and so the community, the women and children, did not have a proper place to receive medical help. I found the volunteer training helpful with this project as it gave me a good idea on how to use Human-Centered Design to smoothly work with the people as they are the center of every development happening in the community.
How has Covid-19 impacted your community and your projects?
It was hard in the first days to talk about the pandemic as most people thought it did not exist. There were a lot of misconceptions about the disease. People thought it did not impact black people and that only well-to-do people would be affected with the disease. They also thought it was politically motivated to prevent people from voting as it was during the presidential election period. I didn't give up, I still educated my community about the disease. Now, people have accepted the news and reality and are embracing changes to be safe.
To get to that point I raised awareness about the pandemic and used the Covid-19 micro grant from the Mastercard Foundation to procure water buckets, soap, hand sanitizers, gloves, and masks. I made sure that the water buckets and resources were placed in the marketplace, in churches, and in schools so that there were central locations for people to wash hands. As one way of empowering the women and girls, we took some of the grant and established a business where I taught them to sew cloth masks, which we then sold in the community.
Overall, the effects of Covid-19 cannot be underrated.The communities have been affected. The focus on projects has also changed. Initially, my community wanted to build both a classroom block and a Community Based Child Care building in additionto the clinic, but due to the pandemic the focus changed to considering projects that will make sure that the community is resilient against the effects of this or any pandemic. It has become more important for the community to address their basic needs like water and health. We are now implementing a borehole project (a water well) in addition to working on the clinic project.
How has Covid-19 changed your experience as a Volunteer?
When I was coming to my community, I never imagined that the pandemic could affect our country. Now that we have cases in our country, the way of doing things has changed. I now have to work with people at the same time that I have to follow preventive measures for myself. I am keeping myself and others safe. I also have had to be innovative enough to find ways of safely meeting the people to make sure that the projects are implemented. I chose to work with a committee, which consists of a small number of people. It is a hard time because I have to be cautious because we do not always know who has the disease, but my experience overall has been wonderful.
Finish this sentence: CorpsAfrica is ... a platform to equip and train youth to be the change makers and champions of community development in their countries.