Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Chisomo Kamlopa
It was around midnight when I heard my host mother knocking at my bedroom window with panic. I knew something was wrong, so we (with my host sisters) ran to open the door.
“The wall of my house is about to fall and there is water everywhere in the house, I can’t sleep,” she explained.
It had been raining continuously for the past two days and according to the weather forecast, we still had two or more days of these rains.
“I think my house is going to fall, the wall is so wet that if heavy wind blows again, that will be the end of it. How will I even manage to build my house again?” She murmured and took a deep sigh.
There was silence for a few seconds. We really wanted our Mother to calm down, but what kind of words would calm a woman who was about to lose her only house?
“Your house is not going to fall,” I didn’t know what to say next, so I stopped to swallow some “wisdom” saliva and continued. “You know, we have to be grateful that you woke up before it got worse. Now what we need to do is figure out how to control the wall from falling.” I convinced myself that I somehow encouraged her.
My host sister suggested that if we covered it with a thick plastic paper, it would prevent the rain from hitting the wall, which will prevent the wall from getting more wet, eventually not falling.
But it was now getting to 2 am, and there was no way we were going to buy a thick plastic paper at that hour.
As we were about to go inside my house, my host sister thought of checking the walls if everything was okay. Boom! My sitting room wall had a crack. I panicked! There was no way I was going to sleep in a house that is showing the “I’m about to fall” signs.
My host mother tried to encourage me with words similar to what I had said to her, but at this time I didn’t consider her as a mother encouraging a child, but as a landlord convincing a tenant. So her words didn’t perform the magic. But I had no choice.
So there we were, all of us in my bedroom. Scared of what will happen next but sharing stories and laughing to bottle up our fear.
As I went through this experience it reminded me of the very reason as to why I am here. To not only facilitate change, but become part of the community, understand their challenges as I experience each and every day with them.
As I read reports online about how much the rains have affected most of the rural areas, what I felt was more than just sympathy. I didn’t just feel sorry for the victims and I wasn’t just trying to put myself in their shoes, but, I was in their shoes. I might have not felt exactly what the people usually feel when heavy rains have destroyed their properties, but I can tell you what it feels like to be in that situation. To me, that’s a life-changing experience.
#ThisIsCorpsAfrica. We are not only about bringing solutions, but also immersing ourselves in rural communities, experiencing and living life together with our communities.