Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Sarah Kazira
As I briefly mentioned in one of my previous blogs, when I got posted to my site, I was placed to work with an organization known as AgeAfrica and we have weekly C.H.A.T sessions with a group of girls on Wednesdays and one of the topics in our books is volunteerism. Being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer thought this was a very important topic that no girl should miss and knowing that the Form 2 girls would be on holiday when we finally got to it and therefore would not have a chance to learn with us, I was convinced the Faculty Adviser if we could just scratch the surface of it for the sake of the form 2’s. So the Faculty adviser talked to the girls for a short while about volunteerism and how it is required of them as Age Africa members.
After the discussion, we decided that there had to be a practical aspect of it. That is when we started brainstorming on different activities we could do for our community. We decided we were going to go and clean at the Health clinic in our community known as Bimbi Health Clinic. We approached the people in charge of the clinic and set a day to do the cleaning. Finally the day came and we went out to do our work.
As we were cleaning the grounds, a lot of people came to see us do the work. “Are you on punishment?” “Are you preparing to have an event here?” are just some of questions we were asked and every time one of our girls would proudly say “ ayi, tangozipeleka” (no, we are simply volunteering). Many people could not understand why a person could simply volunteer to clean at the clinic without being forced to. The hospital staff were just as surprised. They said ever since they could all remember there had never been someone who volunteered to clean for them and they were very supportive by providing us with tools and also helping. We also had many women at the hospital approach us and express their gratitude for the work. This motivated the girls even more and they kept asking for more places to work on and they even exceeded my expectations with what we accomplished.
Having all these people asking questions made the girls more proud of what they were doing and I could tell from the way they were responding to the people that they were excited of what they were doing. Most of them had never done any volunteer work in their life before. They knew volunteers existed but they never knew you could also volunteer to do some small but beneficial things for your community and find satisfaction while doing it. They couldn’t have been happier when one staff member brought out gloves and dust masks for them to wear and this added to their satisfaction.
After all the work was done, we sat down to reflect on the days’ activities. The main point that was raised was when we could do this again. From the talks I have had with them, I know that most of them want to help out in their community, they want to do something for it, but they think it has to be some great thing. What this exercise taught them is that however small they can help out, it goes a long way in the hearts of people. “We should do this again sooner” said one girl “and maybe next time we can help the old women in our communities” said another and right there they started shouting out names of old women in the communities we could help and the chores we could do for them. Just watching this, I knew I was looking at the next generation of volunteers.