Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Emelyne Munyana
“No man is an island,” said John Donne.
In his poem, John Donne attempts to provide facts about how people are somehow interconnected. Sometimes, many people believe that vulnerable groups or communities have nothing to offer, but everyone has something to offer and something to learn from.
Joining CorpsAfrica was a lifetime opportunity. I am saying this because it sharpened me and helped me identify my full potential. Before, what would “away from home” on the site look like? Later on, after training, I was equipped with the knowledge and skills I needed and eagerly awaited my deployment to my current site. It seemed as if a fantasy had come true.
When I arrived on the site, being welcomed by a caring family was beautiful. I had no idea my host family would be so warm and welcoming. But I was amazed by how they treated my fellow Volunteers and me. I used to wonder how I would cope in a different environment with other people. I had no idea, but to my surprise, I found connecting with my host family easy and felt at ease from the first day. Our bond grew stronger as I assisted them with all household tasks and other house chores, such as going to the field, cooking, and so on.
Later, I attended my first meeting with members of the community. I was nervous because I was new to the community, but the meeting was my best chance to introduce myself. I remember being greeted with a warm smile and beautiful hugs. This positive energy affirmed that this community is deserving of my time here. From that day on, I said, “This is just the beginning.” Until now, I have never regretted being a Volunteer, and I never will.
I recall CorpsAfrica providing us with Human Centered Design and Asset Based Community Development as our essential development tools to use in the community during our service. During pre-service training, we shared a saying: “We should put a smile on people’s faces.” I made that my motto: everything I do must benefit the community. Furthermore, I want to devote all my efforts to empowering the community and changing their mindsets so that by the time I leave, they can stand on their own and continue to be at the forefront of their development by leading the social-economic impact in their community. The experience in the community has been tremendous, and it has been such a learning environment for me and a safe place to be. Speaking of the community, I was surprised to see how things are done through solidarity and cooperation.
So far, I am confident that the community has much to offer when there is a desire to learn because everyone has unique skills and the ability to contribute. I learned how to make pots out of clay and am now expanding my knowledge. As a result, from my experience, vulnerability is not a sign of inability but rather the source of innovation, creativity, and change. We can overcome all odds if we work together.