Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Angella Chizimba
Last month we had an opportunity to explore the beautiful beach of Nkhudzi based in Mangochi for our In-Service Training (IST) for a few days. Well, such a wonderful experience to finally meet up with everyone, share experiences, and check how everyone is doing.
Some of the objectives for the training included: Sharing experiences of homestay and project ideas explored by the Volunteers, monitoring and evaluation training, Human-Centered Design refresher, proposal writing, and project management training.
Honestly, my own objectives included: reconnecting with my fellow Volunteers and enjoying a luxury life (i.e. good food, some swimming time, and no more fish in my plate).
I left IST feeling very motivated and ready to serve even more. I finally appreciated how much my life is changing and how much my skills are improving. Before CorpsAfrica, I had poor listening skills. Working with my host community, I have to listen to understand how they feel about things. I am very curious to even ask about the most obvious things. I remember one time, I was asking why a lot of people opt for fishing or selling fish as an income generating activity. Though it seems so obvious taking into consideration that we live along the lake, I had to shut up and listen. I was never good at speaking in a big crowd, thanks to my service, through facilitating meetings, hosting meetings, my confidence level has improved and I can gladly stand in front of people with no nerves, whatsoever.
I got to appreciate all the work the Volunteers are doing in different sites. We were all given a chance to leave our sites due to Covid-19 pandemic, but none of us called it quits. This is extremely impressive. All of us are still on site striving to serve our local communities. We have built resilience in times of need. We shared experiences, the good and the bad, we all understood each other, we were empathetic and we wanted to help were we could. By the end of IST we all were closer than before, we created a strong bond that after service, most of us will remain friends.
We are now well trained in project design, management, monitoring and evaluation, and this was my favourite part of the training. Now we are back into our communities working on our project ideas and working for our grant applications. Everything we decide to do lies in our hands, there is no boss to look over our shoulders and making sure we are on task. Though this sounds great, it is a huge responsibility. We are working with minimal resources; we are not giving handouts but rather we have to build capacities in the community members. I can confidently say that our lives will never be the same after our service, we will come out even better that we are now. This is a life changing experience.