Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Hope Matilda Mawerenga
I am Hope Matilda Mawerenga, and welcome to my journey of volunteerism as a CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer for the next year.
When I received my site announcement, I did not know what to expect from my community. I didn’t even know exactly where my village was in Malawi, so of course I tried to Google it. Since arriving in a small village in Northern Malawi my time here has been interesting. I should also admit that I thought I would make a fool of myself because of the language barrier. Even though I am Malawian I couldn’t speak any Chitumbuka, which is the most common language of the north. After being here a month though I can speak some Chitumbuka and am constantly learning more. So now speaking to the community members isn’t as scary, and I’ve seen that this new language is a cool ukachimanya (when you understand it).
In my past experience it can be difficult to find people who are willing to just help you with nothing in return, but in my community I have found such people. I have made friends with ladies with whom I enjoy having conversations (in my not so good Chitumbuka), and found some people who would like to work with me. Some of my community members who understand Chichewa (the language that I speak fluently) have become my translators and life is easier. I believe strong network, easy service.
I am so excited to be working with students who are gaining a passion for the sport of basketball. Another CorpsAfrica Volunteer Chancy and I meet a group of youth weekly to teach them the fundamentals of basketball, and every session so far has been effective. It is nice that girls have signed up too and are so motivated to play just as the boys. In rural Malawi it isn’t as common for girls to be encouraged to play sports, so I am happy about this. Working with these students is not only fun, but educational even for me. I am learning more about team work and sharpening my own ball skills.
I miss home sometimes but my village makes me feel at home too.