Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Blessings Ngwira
Moseliwa? (Lomwe for How are you?) It’s been 3 weeks since we finished our pre-service training in Lilongwe and Mpalale, Dedza. What an intense and interesting training it was. I met some 25 great trainees from different regions of Malawi including the 2 Moroccan Exchange Volunteers. We met up with the other Volunteer, Touré from Senegal, in Dedza.
The pre-service training was to prepare us for what we could and would meet in our various communities, and on how to integrate with our host families as well as in the community. This was a great experience, especially in Mpalale where we spent 2 weeks with the community and counterparts.
Swearing in ceremony, here we go. This is the day that the “Spartans” (Group 3 Volunteers) was officially born, 12th December 2018. It was such an amazing ceremony finally seeing the smiles on all my fellow Volunteers knowing that the training is done and we are about to go to our sites and do a lot of good in our communities. For me, the reality hit in when I realized that I will be going to serve in an area I have never been before and questions started raining down: How will I be welcomed by the host family? What kind of house will I be living in? Will the community accept someone who is not from this part of the country? What if everyone in my community speaks Lomwe, will I be able to communicate? Yes. Lots of questions. Luckily I had my mom to put me at ease and told me everything will be fine. Simple words but it worked.
And here we go… I left for my site, Phalombe, the day after the swear in ceremony.
When I got to my site I was finally at ease and anxious. At ease because my host mother is the Headmistress at the nearby Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) and her house is quite good, better than what I was thinking it would be. I was anxious because my host mother was not around. And I was back to asking myself questions, who will welcome me? What time will she be back? Will she even be back today? Too many questions came pouring down again. Luckily she was back in 20 minutes.
The following day I met a guy, who is now one of the guys that I talk to a lot. And I also met the guy that I am going around in the community with. My counterpart. Interesting he came in the morning to fetch me, so that I should introduce myself to the Group Village Head. If the guy wasn’t around I have no idea how I would have introduced myself to the chief and the community.
Thankfully my integration in the community was not complicated at all. Luckily most of the people here speak Chichewa and not Lomwe, but I have managed to convince my counterpart to teach me some basic Lomwe. And we have started having community meetings the work has started, so HERE WE GO!!