Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Assiatu Pongolani
My name is Assiatu Pongolani based in Mulanje as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, I have been here for only a week now. But it does not mean I am new to the CorpsAfrica family. I was in the Nsanje district and just moved here. A lot has gone on to reach this point in Mulanje and to finally call it home. The day that the CorpsAfrica staff and I went to Nsanje to finally say goodbye we had quite an adventure. We met a bunch of cattle on the road a couple of times with no one to direct them which made it difficult for the car to pass through. We arrived in Nsanje where our house was, which was within the school campus. One of the CorpsAfrica staff, Katherine, who accompanied us is white, we got a lot of students who came where we were packing our bags into a car to watch her. But while other students were helping take the bags out of the house, others were busy shaking hands with Katherine as she was surrounded by more than 200 kids getting a handshake from her while she just tried to sit under a mango tree looking for a shade in a hot day of Nsanje.
We started off the journey back to Blantyre and the road struggles were also underway. We arrived in a certain area where a nail hit the tire and the car did not have a spare tire so the driver had to rush to Bangula in Chikwawa to get the tire fixed and while we were waiting, at the same time the car battery died. It was so hot and we could not force ourselves to stay in the car but rather we went to a woman’s house nearby and stayed under the tree chatting while Katherine and I were playing bawo game. It was an awesome time waiting for the car to get fixed. The car was fixed and we started off the journey again. Next was passing through the funeral on its way to the graveyard and people were all over the road and the driver had to beg for a little space to pass. “Let’s guess what will happen next???” That was the question that Katherine asked me and I answered, “I don’t know!!!!” But the next thing was my bucket full of items fell from the car and I lost most of the items that were in it. The people who came to witness the incident took them and sadly I had to start buying all over again. All in all the day was really crazy. A big part of me was sad that I was leaving Nsanje. Here and there, I started to know some people in my community, like a woman who was a teacher and my neighbor and used to come to the house for a chat and a young boy who was taking me and showing me some places in the community. They were really sad and I felt the same because we just started know each other and then I left. I did not cry because I did not want to show my emotions in front of all those people, but I was really sad. But, at the same time I was looking forward to what comes next and the kind of people I will meet and the community I will find myself in.
I am finally here in Mulanje and looking forward to these new adventures. This is the place that I am calling my home, my community and my Malawi. I arrived on Saturday the 26th of March, 2016 to the lovely host family of Mrs. Makanjira. Kadewere village has 427 households with a population of 1356 and the village is somewhat scattered and the people depend mostly on farming. There are tea estates around this area which are beautiful and a small trading center called Thabwa where one can buy some of their daily needs and people in this area are more religious. On Sunday morning around 6:30 am Maxon who is the chairperson of one of CorpsAfrica development partners called Friends Of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) in Kadewere village came to greet and escort me to the Chief who is a woman (lovely). The chief was very happy to have me in the community and she is willing to work with me in any other development work. She proceeded to say I should be flexible and confident in working in this area and if any challenges arise or something bad happens to me, I should right away report to her. I felt that was nice and felt welcomed into this community. She also continued to say, she will introduce me to other committees that are within the community such as Village Development Committee and others.
Monday the 28th of March, 2016 was a Easter holiday but for me it was not because I went to FOMO center for the first time to introduce myself to the people who work there as well as the kids. It was nice and I continued to feel welcomed as kids asked me so many questions including if they might be visiting me at home for chat. I think I will not feel lonely in this community. FOMO has secondary students whom stay at a boarding school and they are now on holiday. On the same day, Maxon asked me to deliver HIV/AIDS information to those students through Grass Root Soccer curriculum before going back to school on the 11th of April. I felt that it is a lot of work and tiresome to do GRS everyday for two weeks but at the same time, I felt it is the only way to incorporate myself and getting to know the kids very well and helping them to be open with me. So I started GRS on the next day which the kids really liked because of the kilos, cheers and of course energizers that I am good at.
As I said the Chief is lovely, she came the other day to my host family house just to check on me. She also came together with the VDC chairperson because they also wanted to pass an invitation to me. There was a meeting that they are going to have about forestry that one of the government workers wanted to conduct so she thought to incorporate me in this meeting so that I could introduce myself to all people and the villages nearby. This was another opportunity for me to get to know other partners that are working within the community. This forestry department worker from the government came to introduce the campaign of planting 30 kesha and mango trees around every borehole in the community in order to stabilize the water table to avoid boreholes going dry during the dry season. He also encouraged every village to have a Village Natural Resource Management Committee (VNRMC) which will be responsible for dealing with people who are cutting down trees carelessly by even taking them to the police station if found. Woow!!
My last point of view here in Kadewere village so far has been that, people are willing to work and help themselves first according to the discussions that we had and on top of that, people are nice and welcoming. Since community development consists of working hand in hand both with the community people and the adviser, I think the community that I have wants to help work. The people are self starters that will help in successful project implementation. And today I am happy and confident to finally call it my second home away from home, my community and my Malawi. Until more updates to come, I say thank you for now.