Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Wongani Mwasinga
When I first heard that I had been deployed in Balaka district, I was anxious especially when people let me in on how hot Balaka is, but I was still curious enough to know how hot it can get. After I got to my site, I was warmly welcomed by my host family who up to date have been helpful in my integration period.
The first two weeks of integration were quite challenging for me as everything and everyone around me was new leaving me puzzled about how best I could fit in and blend in with the community. I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, observing how I talked, walked, dressed, and carried myself around the community just waiting for me to mess up, so I refrained from walking around the community aimlessly.
My community holds a lot of meetings and to my advantage, I was given a chance to attend the meetings during the first three weeks of integration. It was during the meetings that I was introduced to the community members as well as other groups such as the Community-Based Organization, Village Development Committee, and Youth Club just to mention a few.
To integrate into the community better, I decided to volunteer at Mpumulo Primary School (not its actual name), where I was privileged to teach Standard Three learners. This has given me ample time to interact with the teachers and students who have shared stories about my community, the people, the culture, and the beliefs.
Apart from volunteering at the primary school, I still couldn’t find something that excited me enough to integrate well. This was until my host mother asked me to attend their business group meeting. The group focuses on the production of peanut butter, tomato sauce, and chili by the community women. Having a degree in Food Science and Technology helped me gain passion in the food production sector by using available resources to initiate value addition of food products. These women’s business is on a small scale but their hope and dedication inspired me enough that I found a motivation to carry on with my integration. I join these women in every production.
My integration has helped me understand and learn that to carry out your service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, you need to learn how to turn the challenges you face into an opportunity that will work to the best of your advantage.