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More Lessons from the Community

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Mieke Mmeya

“The truth is that teamwork is at the heart of great achievement.” — John C Maxwell

Dear Reader,

A couple of months ago I discovered an interesting group of young men and women in my community. Of course, like many great discoveries in history, it was by a pure yet happy accident that I encountered the said group. I was on my way back from one of my numerous engagements in the community, mentally brainstorming on which possible candidates to include in my project implementation team when I stumbled upon a group of about ten young people engaged in a heated discussion. I will confess that I did not want to engage them at first, after all I had had a long day and was just looking forward to getting home to rest. But when I heard what they were discussing, I got interested. They were talking about using their collective power to improve their livelihoods.

Sometimes we take it for granted that it is typical for young people to sit in groups and fantasize about the future. Most times these “fantasies” focus on success of the self or extend to a few close friends who are viewed as instrumental to the attainment of this success. However, as I listened to the group I concluded that what had brought them together was not a bond of friendship or family but a shared vision. And they were not discussing illusions of a successful future where everyone was rich and famous. They were trying to come up with practical solutions to their financial problems and though each one had differing problems, they wanted a solution that they could implement as a team. When I sat in on their discussion they were very excited to hear my input but I told them I had none, which was not a lie or a tactic; I had never in my life been asked to help determine the future of a group. I told them that I could, however, share with them the tools that they could use to develop their plan, and I could work with them until they figured out what they wanted to do.

We recruited other young people from the community who shared the same vision. Using asset-based community development and human-centered design tools we navigated through the problems and possible solutions until we reached a consensus; we were going to start fish farm. Luckily, we secured funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through World Connect to implement the project. For the past three months I have witnessed these vibrant young adults channel their hopes, dreams and passions into action, and every day that I work with them I get inspired more and more.

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