Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Prisca Kadawati
Every new place is very difficult to live in at first, and being in a rural community makes it even harder. Meeting people you have never seen before and somehow you have to make yourself known to them, whether they like it or not because that is what my kind of job as a volunteer and as a Community Development facilitator is all about. Before going to my community, I had this nervous energy that could not go away no matter how many times I told myself to be confident and strong and that I had spent 6 weeks training to be a capable Volunteer at my site, and that is what will happen. I kept on thinking “What if people in the community are not welcoming to me?” and “What if I do not make friends? And a lot more questions wandered in my head and I was afraid of the journey ahead.
Getting myself known by people has always been challenging for me to be honest, I would not say that I am not a people person and it is very difficult welcoming people in my zone. I stayed with my host family for a few days and got to know them better. The good thing was that they were really welcoming and very open to my staying there. Even now, they are some of my closest people in the community. As one way of integrating easily into my community, I first visited each leader in the community to introduce myself before having introductory meetings with the whole community. I also worked with the bakery group by attending some activities such as building an oven and training the bakery group on how to bake different products.
I also started teaching at a Primary school in my community. This is helping me boost my confidence. and it has helped me to form a relationship with the girls from school. Together with another female teacher, we have formed a girl’s guide club, where we will be empowering the girls and encouraging them to work hard in school and also training them on menstrual health and hygiene.
I have engaged with the care groups in my community, and I have facilitated the making of sack gardens, in which they have planted vegetables as a way of improving food security and nutrition in their households. I had no idea how to make Mbeya fertilizer, but now I can do it by myself because I learned from the community members. I can safely say that I am integrating well in my community and I no longer feel nervous whenever there is a community meeting or teaching in class as it is now a psychological safety environment.