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Life As A CorpsAfrica Volunteer

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Margret Chavula

Before being sworn in as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, together with my fellow trainees, we went through a 1-month training formally known as Pre-Service Training (PST) where we were equipped with knowledge and skills on how we can work together with people in rural communities to develop their communities and ensure sustainability. We were told we were going to be catalysts of change in our communities. For me, a month of PST only meant preparing me to serve the community I was going to be sent to because the skills and knowledge were for community development. It’s now been almost 4 months since I started this journey as a volunteer in my community, as much as I am living to make a difference in my community and catalyze development, I can confidently say that so far life as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer has been of a great service to me as an individual.

As part of our service, we are required to send in weekly reports to our coordinators and weekly fill-in forms for evaluation. This has been a life changing experience because I have learnt to be accountable and transparent in my endeavors as I engage with the community. Engaging with people in the community both during meetings and individual conversations has changed how I viewed and imagined life in the rural communities; I have become more empathetic by getting out of my own experiences and seeing the community through other people’s lens. Now I know people in the rural communities have assets such as skills, ideas and the ability to enhance their livelihoods, they only lack support. Sending in weekly reports and engaging in community meetings has influenced me to learn and embrace time management because as a volunteer no one tells you what to do and at what time, but work has to be done or submitted in time. Engaging with the community through community meetings has greatly improved my facilitation skills and boosted my confidence levels.

I have also come to realize that the knowledge and skills on community development I learnt during PST can also be applied to one’s life and develop and benefit the individual. My favourite approach to development is Asset-Based Community Development, which “catalyzes change and development using the existing gifts and capacities of people and their communities.” Applying the ABCD approach in my life is helping me to discover, nurture and develop the assets that already exist within and around me to attain personal and professional development. As a Volunteer, I have also realized that learning is a continuous process, by learning through my experiences and readjusting to get better results. I am confident that by the end of my service as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer, there will be more professional and personal development in me.

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