Written by CorpsAfrica/Rwanda Volunteer Ms. Joyce Mahoro
I first learned about CorpsAfrica/Rwanda through my colleagues, who shared their service experiences with enthusiasm. This organization piqued my interest, and I had a lot of questions. What is CorpsAfrica’s mission and vision? How do community members benefit from their work? My colleagues directed me to their website and social media channels, where I found answers to my questions.
As I delved deeper into their activities, I couldn’t help but wonder how I could become part of this wonderful organization. To my amazement, a few days later, I stumbled upon an application link. I diligently followed the application process, and one morning, I received a congratulatory message that marked a special day for me.
Subsequently, selected candidates convened for pre-service training (PST). This was an enriching experience that allowed us to learn about effective service, emphasizing the importance of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) and Human-Centered Design (HCD). During PST, I made new friends, honed my communication and problem-solving skills, and enjoyed non-academic activities like dancing and games. It was a period I’ll cherish for a lifetime.
Each day during PST brought new experiences, including trips and valuable training sessions with various facilitators. These experiences were part of the toolkit we’d need during our service. The moment came when we randomly selected the district where we would be deployed. I picked a paper with “Gicumbi” written on it.
As PST drew to a close, we participated in a swearing-in ceremony attended by CorpsAfrica staff, board members, alumni, and other distinguished guests. It felt like a dream come true, but I was also apprehensive about spending a year with new people, earning their trust, and fostering community-led development through ABCD/HCD, all without providing any monetary incentives. However, speaking to CorpsAfrica alumni filled me with hope and determination. I realized that if others could do it, so could I.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, we were deployed to our respective sites. The most challenging day for me was the first day with my host family. I couldn’t fathom how I would spend two weeks with a family unrelated to me. The initial days were tough, and doubts crossed my mind. However, as time passed, I learned a great deal from my host family. What I initially saw as an unrelated family became my beloved family. I found siblings, a mother, and a father. We shared happiness, and stories, and formed a deep bond. What initially felt like a long two weeks became a short and enjoyable period after I became familiar with them, making my integration into the community much easier.
My host family played a significant role in my integration into the Kivumu Village community. They introduced me to the local leaders, provided insights into the community’s norms, and shared information about the village’s resources and needs. The knowledge they imparted was like a weapon, boosting my confidence and enabling me to approach the community for collaboration. Building their trust required considerable effort, but I persevered, and today, I’m proud to say we work together for the betterment of Kivumu.
Reflecting on this journey, I’ve learned that one’s actions, whether good or bad, often have consequences. The kindness, love, and respect we show to our communities come back to us. If you want something from others, you must first extend those qualities to them.
In conclusion, my story with CorpsAfrica/Rwanda is just the beginning of my community-led development journey. I’ve realized that it takes a reader like you to complete the story. Thank you for taking the time to read my experiences, and I look forward to hearing your feedback.
Joyce MAHORO, CorpsAfrica/Rwanda-COHORT 5