Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Sibongile Nyirenda
That long-awaited journey was finally here… a throwback to 16 October 2021, the day of swearing in, a day any CorpsAfrica Volunteer surely remembers as the day they took their oath of service. In unison, we repeated the words: “I do solemnly swear that I will fulfill my duty… To do no harm when I can do no good, to give no answer when a question is yet unasked, to have an open mind and an open heart… and I will try, to the best of my ability, to live up to the highest standards of honor, integrity, and dedication. So help me God.” These words do hit home and as I remember them now, I think to myself, “Can I really do this?” Fast track to 16 November, after waiting for almost a month to be deployed to my site, I am finally here. I am definitely and undeniably feeling a whole load of emotions right now. As I lay on my 4-inch mattress, I hope the next day I will feel better than I am feeling right now.
I have a new morning routine now. The sun shines through my window and I open my eyes to my new surroundings. I check my time and it’s only some minutes past 5 in the morning. I hear my community very much awake and I think to myself, “Am I really up for this?” I cheer myself to get up, take my bucket and go to the borehole. I am met by friendly people with, “mwauka wuli?” a greeting that I am used to now. I muster up my best Chitumbuka (local language) vocabulary and answer the morning greetings and they notice right away that I am not originally from their community. They always appreciate my efforts to answer them in their language but I can assure you that I usually feel like I am about to bite my tongue. Being a tumbuka myself, I can officially call myself “fake” with a bit of humour. Never in my lifetime, did I think I would have to learn my language but I will get up and do this.
I like my host family very much. They are so accommodating and offer help whenever I need it. My host father helped me with what I dreaded the most, namely meeting the community leaders. I dreaded the speech I had to give to introduce myself and my work as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer. Of course, I am not the first Volunteer to be at my site but you can never know what they are really expecting with each Volunteer that comes. As I waited while my host father introduced me to the community leaders, I became a nervous wreck. “Can anyone get used to public speaking?” But I just had to get up and do this.
No one ever said that being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer was going to be easy but I have the great and supportive CorpsAfrica staff and my amazing fellow Volunteers to support me as I take on this journey. As I continue with my service, I know that I will do things that are out of my comfort zone. I am up for the challenge because I know that I got this.