Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Caroline Luka
Living in a community with people of different cultures and beliefs can be tricky. The secret to making it work and not feeling like an outsider is to adapt. Blend in like that chameleon. Find that person in the community who is always there asking you questions and making sure that you do not feel out of place. Yes, that woman or man who keeps coming to your house and constantly asking you if you’re alright. That one is your angel in disguise. Well, at least for me she is.
This month I would like to gloat about my amazing neighbor. Not everyone was as lucky as I was to meet such a beautiful soul. At first, I thought she was bothering me by always checking up on me all the time, but then I realized that she was trying to make my transition easier. So, I opened my arms and embraced her kindness and boy did it pay off. She has taught me a lot of things I did not know. We basically do a lot of things together. Some of the things she has taught me is the language used in my community. My community speaks Chichewa mixed with Chisenga. When I first got there I wouldn’t understand anything. I asked her to teach me the basic words and 6 months down the line I actually understand most of it. Some of the words I learned in Chisenga are:
- Mwachomatyani,meaning how are you
- Tachoma bwino, which means I am fine
- Zungo,meaning noise
My neighbor is practically my best friend in the community. She has shown me how she keeps her family together as well as used farming as her main source of income. This woman works so hard it’s impressive. From going to the farm in the early morning, to fetching water, doing household chores and preparing food, and it’s all done before noon. She grows maize, beans, soybeans, sunflower and groundnuts. I did say she was impressive right?
When I was going through the most difficult moment of my service she was there for me. I confided in her and she was there for me. She offered to stay with me so that I did not feel alone. As thoughts of quitting crept in my head, she reminded me of why I was here in the first place and gave me reasons why leaving at that time was not the best idea. I gambled with myself on whether I should quit or continue with my service. With her hand pulling me out of that lake so that I should not drown, I realized that my time was not yet up. I got back up, and slowly with her help, I was back on my feet.
My neighbor has grown on me and I know my service would have been difficult if it wasn’t for her. Through thick and thin we’ve been there for each other. I found me a gem!