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Off On A Journey of Integration

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Assiatu Pongolani

A month now has gone by since I got here to Kadewere village. It has been a month that I have been doing much transitioning and integrating myself into this community. So far, meeting and interacting with different people, attending and calling for both community meetings and Village Development Committee meetings to just have insights on development issues that are taking place in this community, teaching nursery school in the morning and Grass Root Soccer (GRS) to the youth in the afternoon at Friends Of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) in Kadewere Centre are most of the activities that I have done in the past month. That was the most interesting part of it in the sense that getting to know a community and its people’s behaviors has an impact on its own and you get to collect community information.

When school started on the 11th April 2016, I started off the first few days shadowing two nursery school teachers and then ended up of myself being one of them. Most of the kids who go to this school are orphans but others go as private kids and they pay a little fee amounting k250 and they also eat porridge at break time. So, as most kids are within the community, when we meet and when they see me they are like, “Madam, muzatiphunzitsa mawa??” (Madam, are you gonna teach us tomorrow??) And am like, “Yes, I will,” and they laugh! That sense of humor in kids makes me so happy and think how clever and cute they are. Also some kids has been telling their parents and few of them in my presence while pointing at me saying, “Kunabwera madam achiduntu Ku FOMO awo” (we have a fat madam at FOMO), and I know that sounds disgusting but to me its OK because it means kids are able to identify me for whatever reasons they want to tell their parents, I hope in a positive way. So, when I am walking around this community I am known by two names Madam Achiduntu (fat woman) from the orphan center, and Aunt from those around my host family.

Teaching Grass Root Soccer is one of the activities that I have been doing with young people in the afternoon hours at FOMO. The first group is about to graduate. I can see and feel when teaching that the youth are having fun and the energizer songs that I have been teaching them I’ve seen them use everywhere in the community. GRS so far has been one of my project that I just introduced because I couldn’t wait any longer to implement and such that it is cost-less. I am now about to finish the first phase of it. HIV Limbo is one of the activity in GRS that is more fun as one limbo under the string but making sure that you should not attach the string and if you do it means you catch HIV Virus and the height gets lower from abstinence stage to older sexual relationships.

​I also called for a Village Development Committee (VDC) meeting and on the agenda was just to hear on how the VDC works, its history but also how they prioritize or deal with development issues in this village. VDC is the center of every development work in the community and organizations that work in the community are well known by the VDC committee and they are able to give insights of projects that can be done or done before by other organizations in the community in general they have all that data. These kind of meetings are more helpful as they will help me to fully involve the community during my future project implementation.

Also a lot of activities has been taking place at Kadewere center. I have been cooking nsima that the kids eat when they come, before doing any activity. There are three women that are assigned to cook at the center but as a Volunteer I also enjoy helping them. Also at the center there is a garden and we planted sweet potatoes because we are still receiving the rains and those potatoes are going be used by the kids themselves.

As I said that I am in an integration stage of exploring, observing, and understanding everything in this community, my whole hope is to help this community in every means I have for better community development. Until we meet again when I write next month! Keep reading and following my blog for more updates. Tiwonana!!!!!

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