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My Extended Volunteer Service

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Angella Chizimba

Dear Reader,

I believe serving comes in different forms, shapes, and sizes and is triggered by a lot of things. For me, it was improving people’s livelihoods and empowering the local communities. Some of us give our time, some of us our hearts, and some of us give in kind. Some people learn to give and some learn to feel. Some provide leftovers, some provide what they have and others provide what they do not have. Yet, it’s not the amount of services one gives, nor the depth of love that one shows that counts, but rather it is the act itself that matters. The true act of service is humble and devoid of pride. These were some of my reflections during our Close of Service.

At first, I didn’t really understand the whole essence of extending my Volunteer service. But, the more you serve your community, the more you want to do for it.  I realized that the more I served the more I understood the needs of the community. Believe me when I say, serving is not only admirable but it is addictive too. What was stuck in my mind and heart was the priceless friendships that I had built with the community members. Fast forward, I finally went to my community, again. So funny I didn’t really know where to start. I spent most of my time visiting people, checking up on some and visiting the lake. We were supposed to monitor and evaluate the projects we implemented and I never thought that this could be the only exercise I could do.

I later realized how the projects in the community needed a very serious monitoring and evaluation. One of my projects was at the verge of falling apart, not due to the recklessness of the project beneficiaries, but due to other social factors beyond their control. When I told the project team that I will be with them for some time, they were very happy. Setting out workable solutions, required me to apply Human-Centered Design and Asset-Based Community Development tools. I have learned that sometimes we tend to overlook small problems. They look so small, but they have a great potential of causing project failure and can easily destroy what people worked so hard to build over time. So let me please use this opportunity to share with you that no problem is small, every part of it will have an impact on your project regardless of how small it is.

Today, I stand here, to thank CorpsAfrica for the opportunity to extend my service. Achieving project sustainability is not easy, people have to be properly trained, ensuring they fully own the project, ensuring they know the best approaches to use to deal with challenges and most importantly making sure they take seriously the aspects of group dynamics. I am happy today because I am confident that my community and project implementing teams are well equipped to ensure that the projects are sustainable and I am delighted to have served well.

I now look at my host community in a totally different light, and I constantly  encourage them to be the best they can be. I feel a great sense of excitement to see the groups I have worked with accomplish significant  growth and independence,  which they never thought they would.

If we are able to harness opportunities life presents us, we can all learn to serve our communities in any kind of way. It might not be as I did, but a little support to local groups could be another way to serve.

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