Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Umusa Ng’oma
It seemed like all fun and games; when the first round of deployment was done. I did not understand why some Volunteers were anxious or having their emotions all over the place. Wasn’t this what we wanted? So why the tears? We wished them luck and I continued my “holiday” as though that daunting text message from the Country Director would never arrive.
Alas! The message came. I still remember that day. It seemed like time stood still for a while, the heat ceased for a moment. I was blank. Two days later, the bank alert came in. It became real! All these emotions came in. Now I understood why those guys felt the way they did. The shopping was done and the day arrived.
I was picked from Mzuzu on a Tuesday morning. We dropped off two Volunteers in Mzimba, two in Kasungu, then we proceeded to Lilongwe. All along, jokes and encouragements were held in the air. Such moments helped ease some of the pressure of those we were leaving behind as the rest of us proceeded to the next site. I spent that night and the whole of Wednesday in Lilongwe because I was to be dropped off on Thursday that week.
Thursday arrived too soon, Chikondi (not her real name) arrived too soon to pick me up. This day, it was my fellow Volunteer and me. I remember I was running a lot of algorithms in my mind. We were told to manage our expectations, but how does one begin to do that? Unlike the other day, there were more of us being dropped and the jokes were always there. This time around, things were different. My friend was the first to be dropped in Dedza, then we were off to Ntcheu. Now nerves kicked in. I started asking myself questions like; do I have to do this? What did I get myself into? Will I manage? Why do these people trust me this much to do this? Interestingly, I was also filled with excitement, looking forward to leaving a mark in someone’s life. I encouraged myself that I can do this.
By 1:30 pm, we were in Champiti, Ntcheu. About 20 minutes later, Chikondi left. It felt like a joke. That I would wake up and still be in my bed in Mzuzu. My host mother is a wonderful woman and she made me feel at home. She introduced me to many people and, I was no longer a stranger but part of the community.
Almost a month down the line, I am more relaxed and at ease and made meaningful friendships. I think I like it here.