Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Angeline Akimana
Unless we change how we are, we will always have what we have got. After realizing that I was weighing and knowing less, I tried changing how I was by allowing CorpsAfrica to take my hand and show me the other side of the world. Embarking on the journey with CorpsAfrica was like stepping into a realm of possibilities, where every experience would be a profound lesson. I, a Mission-Driven Patriot, spent six intensive weeks of pre-service training at Amakuza Resort, to get packages that will not only lead me to self-grow but also contribute to the development of my country-Rwanda. In the recent five years of CorpsAfrica serving Africa, a quality discipline has proven to be the silent architect of success. CorpsAfrica instills a culture of discipline that becomes the driving force behind meaningful impact. As I reflect on the pre-service training, I am compelled to share the invaluable takeaways such as Respect, shutting up to listen, as well as catalyzing, that have become the bedrock of my transformative journey, bound to the significance of discipline. Welcome to the hidden gems of CorpsAfrica where locals help locals.
By default, everyone has the right to be respected. Respecting local community members as a keystone of sustainable impact falls as a first line of discipline. Respect isn’t just a courtesy; it’s the keystone upon which sustainable impact is built. In line with CorpsAfrica, there is respecting oneself, respecting others, and respecting organizations and their values. During the pre-service training, CorpsAfrica underscored the importance of respecting local community members. This involves acknowledging their wisdom, traditions, and inherent knowledge of their surroundings. Personally speaking, I witness that respecting myself in a community has made it easier for me to feel at home for the first week with my host family. However, when respecting others is being replaced by selfishness, self-respect is then dead. By respecting the entire community without differing and selecting the whites from blacks, or eliminating the poor from the powers, everyone feels the frames of value. Through this, no one will feel isolated which makes it easier to integrate, gain the community’s trust, as well as have meaningful friendships. It’s about entering communities not as saviors but as collaborators, fostering partnerships grounded in mutual respect. Behind this, there is the power of discipline that fuels a volunteer’s respect, paving the means of growing and inspiring others.
Shut Up and Listen
Shutting up to listen is a system that speaks volumes. The mantra of “shut up and listen” isn’t just a catchy phrase; it’s a profound philosophy woven into the fabric of CorpsAfrica’s approach. This felt like a burden for me as a human, why do I have to lock what I feel inside when I think it is completely right? However, this requires a silent powerful driving force-discipline. The pre-service training required the Volunteers to go down to the community with zero projects, turning off their ranks and degrees, and empty-handed. It is the discipline that helps CorpsAfrica Volunteers to keep silent and let the community break their silence and take the lead in their development. Through active listening, we unlock the narratives, aspirations, and challenges of the communities we serve. By practicing the community mapping exercise, a CorpsAfrica Volunteer can listen to the community and unlock the door to them to easily know what resources and opportunities they do have and how to make good use of them without waiting for outsiders’ hands. This system is about understanding, connecting, and co-creating solutions that resonate with the heartbeat of the community and it has its roots in the power of discipline.
Being a Catalyst in Community-Led Development
CorpsAfrica’s pre-service training emphasizes a role that goes beyond that of a conventional volunteer. Inside the Volunteer competencies stands the value of a Volunteer as a catalyst. We are catalysts, igniting the flame of community-led development. From the Pre-service training, a catalyst/facilitator is normally the one who assists a group of people to work together better, and by remaining neutral, understanding their common objectives, and finally planning how to achieve these objectives. This isn’t about dictating solutions; it’s about empowering communities to define their destiny. The training equipped us with the skills to facilitate, guide, and inspire, becoming a conduit for positive change rather than an authoritative force. Catalyzing means that a CorpsAfrica Volunteer has to demonstrate personal responsibilities and exemplify leadership and commitment to serve, connecting existing resources with people as ABCD (Assets-Based Community development) and HCD (Human Centered Design) main CorpsAfrica approach the state. Discipline, in this context, maintains order and adherence to rules where a Catalyzer has to implement disciplinary measures to ensure a respectful and focused atmosphere, fostering a positive learning or working experience.
Furthermore, whatever you don’t use, you lose. As a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, I have to use what I learned from the training. CorpsAfrica’s pre-service training wasn’t just a preparatory phase; it was a transformative initiation into the world. The guiding principles, of shutting up listening, and being a catalyst have been my takeaways which are not just lessons to be learned; they are principles to be lived, creating a blueprint for effective volunteerism and sustainable community development. As I embark on the journey ahead, these cornerstones will remain my compass, guiding me through the dynamic landscapes of service and impact. Above all, I will stick to discipline to ensure that I, and the community that I serve, adhere to these principles and the effective execution of CorpsAfrica’s mission, promoting sustainable change and positive impact within communities. Discipline, discipline, discipline.