Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Deborah Kamanga
Growing up, I heard the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” a million and one times! As a child and through most of my teenage years, my reply was ALWAYS: “I want to be a lawyer.” I didn’t even know much about being a lawyer at that time, but something was fascinating about the lawyers I saw on TV. I am not sure if it was the way they talked with so much confidence and sounded very intelligent or if it was the black and white uniforms that I found thrilling. Either way, I made up my mind I was going to be a lawyer. To make matters worse, I have always been very opinionated from childhood, so much so that my parents used to say: “You are very stubborn and you should be a lawyer” and that somewhat gave me a sense of satisfaction that I was on the right track.
To cut straight to the chase, years down the line, I am currently working as a volunteer in a village I never imagined I would ever locate in my wildest imaginations. I started volunteering with International Citizen Service (ICS) after I graduated from the university and that’s where I gained some insight on what volunteering was all about. Having served as a volunteer with ICS for six months I came across CorpsAfrica and I decided to continue serving my country through this program.
In my reflection process, I realized that I always said I wanted a “white collar” job because I never came across a wide range of other things that I could be. No one ever mentioned volunteering to me both in school and outside. I didn’t get to know about the importance of working just for the purpose of helping people and making a difference, because in my head, the idea of “making it in life” meant having a high-paying “white collar” job. While I am not downplaying the importance of accumulating “enough cash,” I have just gained a broader view of the world we live in and a better sense of other equally important things.
I have therefore been working on starting up a girls club in the community where I live and work. The general accepted view of development especially in rural communities is on the quantitative or structural elements of projects- that is: buildings, construction of bridges, health centers, and so forth and so on. There are limited efforts on the qualitative aspect of development, that is: creating and increasing awareness on issues like women/girls empowerment, the importance of early childhood development, leadership, etc. People are more concerned with the former even if it is more costly to implement because its elements are perceived to be measurable, tangible and can be captured in standards and subsequently measured. The latter is less expensive and equally important in the development process, however it’s harder to measure, communicate and influence. It is from this background that I have decided to start up a girls’ club at Nansato Primary School and one of the vital things that I want is for a sense of volunteerism to be imbibed in the members of the girls club. Watch this space for more updates about the girls club, I promise you will be thrilled! (lol).
In addition to this, I came across a community nursery school which was constructed by some Scottish volunteers dating back to five years ago. This has motivated me to start up something which I could always look back to and be able to see that I made a difference.
The pictures depict a brief view of what has made my volunteering with CorpsAfrica thus far, memorable. Cheers!!