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A Home Away From Home

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Margret Balekire Chavula

“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” — Jackie Chan.

The idea of leaving my parents’ house and getting settled in a new community as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer seemed exciting from afar. Finally! I will be setting up my own home away from home, I would often say. After months of anxiously waiting, I got the email saying I had been given the opportunity to be part of the long-awaited adventure. I had been located in Balaka.

I was filled with excitement the very first days, as the idea of moving out and living on my own away from family seemed quite exciting (adulthood at last, I would say). However, as the days drew nearer, I realized that I was becoming more scared, since it was now beginning to sink in that I will actually be moving out in a few days time to a new community I have absolutely no idea of. I started asking myself many questions that had no answers. How will I survive in a community with people I barely know? How will I even get to the community I have never been to? Where do I start from as the only stranger in a community where everyone already knows each other? How will I blend in? Will I be accepted?

One would expect that someone planning and anticipating a long journey should prepare well in advance. This was not the case with me, I dreaded each day that got closer. Nothing was packed yet and nothing was bought in readiness for my transfer to this new community. Then I remembered during pre-service training we were taught to “embrace uncertainty” and learn from experiences. That on its own gave me so much courage and motivation to go and face the new environment and community as it comes, and learn from whatever experiences I was going to find and create.

When I got to my site, however, I was surprised at how warm and welcoming my host family was. They have welcomed me warm-heartedly and have been treating me as their own. They have made sure I am comfortable and that I settle well in my new family, home and community. This is going to be my home away from home. I keep telling myself my fears and anxiety were for nothing because some people are naturally just kind. This has taught me to always be kind to people trying to settle in an environment I am already familiar with, one can never know the battles of fear and anxiety the new individual is dealing with. There is a popular saying that I like that says, “Kindness is free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere.” An act of kindness can surely simplify someone’s life. I am confident that my stay and service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer here in Balaka will be exciting, a great learning process and a journey to cherish because I have been surrounded by people that are loving and supportive. I am now very eager and excited to see how the rest of the journey unfolds.


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