Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Patricia Lily Nyirenda
I still remember the atmosphere of the room I was being interviewed on 21st June 2021. It was the very first interview in my life. You can imagine how I felt. I received an email on 11th August 2021. I made it! I was now a CorpsAfrica Trainee. My uncle kept congratulating me on this new path in my life. Somewhere in the email read “Pre-Service Training is a time for trainees to prepare to serve in a rural community without the luxuries of the city.” I pictured myself in the remotest area. Fast forward to Naming’azi Training Centre, the training was intense and full of fun. I made some new friends and learned new things.
By the time I was going home after the training and swearing in, I was aware of my career growth path. I was to be deployed in Mulanje. Going through the site description, I noticed the difference between the culture I grew up in and the place where I was heading to. I had heard some stories about Mulanje that got me scared. I could not imagine myself being part of this community. I felt like quitting before I even began the journey but, I remembered the Country Director’s words that “everywhere you get posted is in Malawi,” this fueled the courage in me to go out there as an agent of positive change.
About how I felt traveling to Blantyre on my birthday to proceed for my site drop off the next day is a story for another day. Two hours after my arrival in the community, the Chief of the village, Community Based Organization’s chairperson, and an uncle to my host mother came to see me. I felt welcomed. I said to myself, “I am here for a purpose — to work with the villagers and grow.” I have been at my site for three weeks now. My host mother and her whole family have so far been very supportive. Every single morning, I have almost every member of the family coming to check up on me. Interacting with members of this family has made me realize the importance of empathy building. As I go around the community; I at least know what life is to the people here. “A single story is dangerous,” Chimamanda Adichie said.
I would not say it is too early to judge, but the stories I heard about this place are different from what I am experiencing. I keep learning new things daily, experiencing some of the rural hardships with the people. I read somewhere that “we cannot overcome what we do not face,” so I have wholeheartedly embraced this path. CorpsAfrica has indeed provided me with a path for my growth.