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‘A Girl Has No Name’

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Ruth Chamangwana

I have always believed that I am a strong person who can endure anything life brings my way, but on November 15th tables turned. For the first time in a long time, I felt like a chicken about to be killed; well I think that’s how chickens feel. I was so NERVOUS to leave my comfortable life in the city and head into the village, and I was even more nervous about meeting my host family.

When we arrived at my small village in Salima on a hot afternoon the nerves continued. However, when I met my new family I fell in love with them on the first day. We instantly clicked and they have made my transition from growing up in the city to moving into a village easier than it would have been alone.

The first week dragged by. Few people bothered to ask my name. They simply called me ‘nzungu, alendo or asisi,’ meaning foreigner, visitor, and sister. Some kids cried every time they saw me because they were afraid and some women said some mean things to me in Chichewa (the language spoken in Malawi) because they thought I was a foreigner. Their reactions were priceless when I then proceeded to greet them in Chichewa.
I had my first community meeting this week as well, and I must say it was a success. The people in my community were so excited to hear from me and the project ideas they had were inspiring. I have been promised a lot of visits from community members in the coming days. I think this means I should probably buy a chair for the elders to sit on, but so far a mat has been enough for me.

The lake is my favorite place to be in my village. I still have to gather my courage to go and swim but watching the kids laugh and dive into the water gives me pleasure at the moment. And let me talk about the fish!! Fishermen are not given enough praise in my opinion! The juicy species of fish they bring to the shores everyday are amazing and make me look forward to the next day. The shores are full of fish in different colors and shapes, and I am loving it!

I am really enjoying my experience so far and I know this year will be life changing not just for me, but for my community members as well. My community has amazing people and the interactions with them have left me laughing in stitches.

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