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Celebrating Life and Learning

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Lucy Chihana

It’s been forever since I wrote something that saddens me :(. Well from not having my gadgets charged to really being occupied with knowing, chatting, and laughing with the women in my community it’s been crazy. However, I’m happy to be part of this community and learning from them and scolding them as well when they are up to no good. This causes debate and by the end of the day they learn and make decisions that will not only be good for them but their entire family. For instance, I have been visiting some women-headed households and talking about the different ways in which they can be empowered to support their families. They always have excuses for not doing anything about it and yet they are living in extreme poverty. One thing I have learned is that it’s hard to tell someone something is a problem when they see nothing wrong with the way they get things done. For something to make sense that it’s a problem, it has to come from within not someone else pointing it out for you.

Anyway I’m now a role model for many kids in my community and  get a lot of attention from kids everywhere, some kids follow me to my house and just stare at me, others literally want to spend a night at my house and we end up having dinner together as their mothers wait for them. We play different games, we play netball: I’m a big cheerleader! We talk about what they would all like to be, what makes them happy, what annoys them and how to deal with the different challenges that demotivate them with regards to going to school because many kids in my village especially girls drop out of school by the age of 12 and honestly no one sees anything wrong with such behavior. Most people relate this behavior to the cultural initiation practices here but I really don’t want to say much about it because it’s ‘culture’. In addition almost all kids have no idea why they go to school, they have never seen anyone who did well because of school, especially a woman. Its almost impossible to find a young person who completed secondary school in my community. However it’s all been a beautiful experience and going to other villages to play netball and just appreciate how other people live and celebrate.

I have been looking forward to attending a wedding, a party in my community and everyone told me it’s seasonal. Since most individuals in my community depend on agriculture. Once people harvest their farm produce and start selling these they have money then celebrations begin. So I got invited to a birthday party!! One of my friends Dorothy was celebrating her 22nd years. I really was excited about it however I only got to be at this party for 10 minutes because I  had  Malaria and I couldn’t do anything at all with the fever and headache plus the loud music, I had to leave and she was really sad because I wasn’t there to see her cut the cake I baked. Yes, I bake, so after getting the party invitation I took on the challenge to bake her a cake using a local oven. The cake was on point. Anyway the thing is the birthday parties here are different from the ones we are most familiar with. At this party there was rice, chicken, Africa beer (Thobwa), beer, orange squash, and small fried fish to go with the beer. The kids were given rice and chicken plus orange squash, I also got a huge plate of rice and chicken and a huge mug of African beer. This was my first time eating chicken since I got here in March. I loved the short I was at this party: meeting so many people, the music, watching people dance, the laughter and the pictures. One thing i realized is that everywhere people celebrate life no matter how much you have all that matters is having friends and family with you and the memories you make.

However, I often find myself alone and worried because I’m just not sure what I can do for my community to make a lasting impact. A few members of my community seem to know what’s best for everyone and boldly talk about it with me but the truth is I’m not sure if that’s what everyone would consider important. I personally feel like running a girls network project or a project to empower women especially women-headed household but I don’t know what and how to do it. Therefore l am welcoming ideas, suggestion on how and what you think I can do as project that helps the different stakeholders in my community.

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