Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Hyguette Irambona
Many amongst us were raised to follow such a pattern: u grow up, go to school, study hard to get good grades and pass, get a job given your profession to get good money, and compete to get a raise or wait for years for promotion and later get married and start a new life and retire. But a life of Volunteering is a life without that usual formula. A life without a set agenda but only to be there for your community and facilitate them find better ways forward.
A life with my community has been a real experience and it has shaped me beyond my expectations and revealed something inside me that I didn’t know I had. I would wake up at the sounds of birds and brooms of people swiping the floor or neighbors saying “Mwaramutse” to mean good morning or the axe against the wood and I’d know that breakfast would be served in a small while.
When they enumerated villages that we ought to be deployed in, I was the first to choose the place and was happy and anxious about going there. On the day I set to visit the place, it was an afternoon, I moved into the community and started encountering new people, my excitement radiated to them and they started asking me if I knew them and that perhaps I’d lived in the village. I laughed it off and introduced myself as their new volunteer and that I was there to live with them daily and to facilitate their steps forward, few knew CorpsAfrica and I shared with them who we are. My first friend is a 6-year-old girl, I met her on her way to fetch water and I helped her carry it back home as we chatted. I thought no one was home but I found a mother sitting on a tree trunk peeling potatoes, and four small children playing next to her. On their left side was a cow shelter with 3 cows. The girl with all smiles then told her mother that she brought home a friend. Those statements were heart-warming for a small kid like her to accept me as her friend. Her mother first welcomed me into their home, many other kids nearby came to that house and we exchanged some stories. When it was getting dark they went with me to the main road.
I cherish and celebrate small victories accomplished together with my community from building houses, toilets, and kitchen gardens to enjoying shared activities like playing with kids, visiting them and caring for livestock helping at the farm, or sharing local drinks and food. I thought I’d be alone in this place but I found a family away from my family. I’ve never known a place where community members are concerned about a stranger’s health, wellbeing, and security but the truth is that I am no longer a stranger but a trusted member of my community.
It has been months since I’ve been here but I don’t regret the choices I’ve made and the big step I’ve taken to be a Volunteer because this is not only the right way to give back to my country and be an agent of change but also the benefits are abundant. I Voluntarily swore to serve with humility and integrity and I believe in a better tomorrow, a changed community, and a better future that is why I choose to stand beside my people to reach that finish line with victory.