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A Volunteer is Never Alone

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Ireen Kanjala

Ten months down the line since I made my community my home. One of the things that had me both excited and terrified was being deployed to a new community. I did not know what to expect, and my guess was that the community members did not know either. In the back of my mind, I always wondered if they would like me or accept me into their community, and luckily, they did! They always make me feel welcome into their homes and share with me their culture, experiences, and happiness.

I have learned so much about culture and tradition here that it still gets me excited. Every time I am around family and friends I always try to squeeze in a story or two about my community, hoping it will get them as excited as I am. I remember telling my sister about a traditional dance ritual done in my community known as Gule Wamkulu. She got so into the story and made me tell it to everyone we knew, even her workmates! Her enthusiasm made me so happy because it’s not just about the stories, but she is also very supportive and eager to hear what I have been up to with my community.

I have made so many younger friends here, both girls and boys. They teach me new things and make me experience some really great tastes too. I recently tried a new fruit called Jinkha, I don’t know the English name yet. It was so good, and apparently it is also commonly found in the small town I grew up in.

really have fun around the friends I have made. They try to keep me company and get me laughing, apparently so that I don’t leave even after I complete my yearlong service. One of the girls I am close to even offered me a place to stay at her house after my service so that I can continue teaching them at the school and hanging out with them.

I only have less than 3 months left here and it feels like such a short period to get everything done. I need to come up with a bucket list and do it all. I hope to make more friends and experience as many new things as I can. Especially if I will be squeezing my community experiences into conversations, I will need a bag full of them, right?


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