Written by CorpsAfrica/Kenya Exchange Volunteer Mr. Malamine Badiane
The day was Friday 9th December 2022. This was an important day because it was finally the
deployment date for my site after our Pre-Service training. My destination was Machakos County,
somewhere I had never been to, apart from getting stories of the place from our facilitators, online, and from fellow trainees. I recall the journey started at 5:00 a.m. On the bus, I was consumed by anxiety and fear. I didn’t know what to expect since this was a foreign country and I was not privy to this culture. I questioned my choices, particularly leaving the comfort of Dakar, to a village in Machakos where I had no family, friends, or acquaintances. I also wondered whether I was going to survive in a community where I didn’t speak their language, save for a few Swahili words I had learned during my stay in Nairobi. I also wondered whether they were going to be hospitable to me. Later that day, we arrived at my site in Minyalala (Machakos County). Though exhausted, I was keen on getting to meet my new community. From the welcome by the community, I felt loved and pampered, and discovered the hospitality of communities in Kenya. Everyone wanted to talk with me and a cup of tea with bread was served in every house I visited for my introduction to the community. With it being difficult for me to speak their local language (Kamba), I found it a little bit difficult to understand them but that did not prevent us from laughing and sharing moments. I was given the name “Mwendua” which means lovely.
The next few days involved me meeting community groups. After each meeting, a meal was prepared in my honor to thank me for my presence in their community, and when I could not finish my meal, they were unhappy and wanted me to eat more. To tell the truth, at Minyalala, I feel at home. Having lived three wonderful weeks with my host family, a family that welcomed me as one of their own, and gave me a lot of privileges, where I lived a life full of fun and happy moments, the time had come for me to move into my new room. My host dad stopped working to help me with my luggage, and I was pleasantly surprised when the community came together to shop for me. They brought me a bag full of rice, sugar, flour, tomatoes, and potatoes, to thank me and put me at ease as I started this new life of living on my own.
In fact, in this community, I understood that the family is more extensive than one might think. The beauty of volunteering is not what you give, but what you receive and learn in return.
From Senegal to Minyalala, Mwendua Badiane feels at home.