Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Tapiwa Khutakumutu
Dear Aspiring CorpsAfrica Volunteer,
Unlike many other Volunteers, I almost cried when I first arrived at my site. Waking up in a motel room with a beautiful view of what seemed like a deserted permaculture garden, I was wearing the most beautiful smile just like my fellow Volunteers. We were excited that morning and we took a lot of pictures and videos while walking around the garden chit-chatting and enjoying all the fruits the garden had to offer. I was looking forward to meeting my host family and the rest of the community.
After traveling for thirty kilometers from Dyeratu, which is my pick-up point, we got to my site. A group of smiling women and children had gathered waiting for my arrival. The rains had fallen two days before my arrival and so the pigs and ducks were still enjoying every filled pit they could find. This can’t be real. I had visualized my community and it looked nothing like this. “At least you have access to the network,” said the driver as I was striving to control my tears and the agony on my face. I forced a smile, we laughed and they drove off.
Looking for a place to dump my anger and disbelief, I remembered all the good things one of the staff had said to me about my site during the PST (Pre-Service Training) and I decided to confront him that same night, and this is a summary of our conversation:
Tapiwa: So this is my site which you praised during PST?
Staff: Good evening Tapiwa, so you have arrived.
Tapiwa: This place has no electricity, it is extremely hot and very far from the main road. I am still awake but rats are already crawling out of their holes. How am I supposed to survive here? This is not fair, some Volunteers have access to electricity and they are just a walk away from the main road.
Staff: Hahahaha, those are your new pets welcoming you. And that’s how we work Tapiwa, Remote and far from luxury. You felt that your knowledge and passion in fighting against climate change could be of use in Chikwawa. Remember the goal.
A little while later, I found myself sleeping outside the house with my host sisters and complaining about the heat. Reflecting on my passion for fighting against climate change, I knew I was at the right place. A month later, I have built a strong relationship with my community. I am working with a strong and motivated team in fighting against climate change and enhance resilience in all the neighboring villages, which are mostly affected by floods. As a community, we hope to accomplish more in the next nine months.
So dear aspiring CorpsAfrica Volunteer; “Follow your passion. The rest will attend to itself. If I can do it, anybody can do it. It’s possible. And it’s your turn. So go for it. It’s never too late to become what you always wanted to become in the first place.” — J. Michael Straczynski