Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Lucy Chihana
This year has been one of the craziest in my life: from graduation to moving out to my little place I now call “home.” It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I was in college when I decided I wanted to volunteer for a year after graduating. The reality led me to Balaka among people I never met and a place I had never known. Being someone who moved from one site to a new one I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, I was scared and often found myself alone. On this new site, I wasn’t open enough to learn much, I looked at almost all things as a test and this often made me homesick, alone, and sad. I pretended to be fine and happy most of the time.
My sadness didn’t last long because all around me were happy people who always greeted me with a lot of smiles and managed to spread it to me. For starters my host family is awesome!! Oh wait… and she’s a chief who is super great, her 7 grand-kids and her daughters are really great. They call me “Auntie” and do some little chores like laundry for me. Our neighbors are very good. People in my community are also great despite most of them not really knowing me because I haven’t had a community meeting yet, but still some come to the chiefs house just to say hi and tell me how honored they are to have me in their village. I really like my village, it’s got a beautiful view, friendly dramatic people, people who are willing to learn, a lot of kids, a lot of football and netball, as well as an active community even though it gets too hot sometimes. And I still don’t have a house of my own which makes it hard for me sometimes but am taking it one day at a time I will figure it out eventually.
Close to my host family is Tsalani Primary School where I volunteered to teach twice a week. Its a school that was constructed by Buildon: a non governmental organization that constructs primary school in rural areas. Combined efforts from parents in this village lead to the birth of Tsalani. However, Tsalani Primary School only has one block meaning 2 classes: standard 1&2 with 3 teachers and no staff room or teacher houses. This is the closest school to my village otherwise all other kids from as early as standard 3 (8 years old) have to walk 4-5 kilometers to school and then back home. This demotivates many kids who dropout of school at an early age… especially girls.
There are a lot of wonderful and beautiful things I am looking forward to in this village during my 1 year stay: learning how to cycle, new language, cultural dances, community days, my hospital work, travelling, friendships and most importantly my project. I love my village, its people, and how they make me feel. I am definitely HOME.