Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Dorothy Mapira
It was a sunny day, I could hardly sit in my house because it was hot. In search of fresh air, I took a seat under a big mango tree in front of my house. I do not usually sit under the mango tree because it is close to a cow, pig, and goat kraal. You can imagine the mixed smell coming from these animals’ dung. However, I had no option this time, I neglected the smell. All I wanted was just a breather. I had recently finished a malaria dosage and my body was still weak. Work was on standby, I could no longer push myself to work. I took my small chair, commonly known as chibwatiko in my community’s local language. I leaned to the mango tree as I watched the kids play soccer.
Then suddenly, my mind got me thinking of how life would have been without friends. Not just friends by name but those who stand with you even in the toughest times. I imagined how I could have been history today if it was not for friends who came to my rescue. I recalled the words of my father the night I was bidding him farewell as I was getting ready to start my volunteering service. He told me to honour and respect everyone irrespective of who they are. He said, “You are not going with your parents to your site, but you will find your parents there.” I keenly listened to him. It was one of those rare moments. We had an interesting father and daughter conversation. I thought to myself that my dad is not just a mere man. He is a man full of wisdom and there is a lot to be desired from him. I will leave his story as he is not the subject of today.
It was a night like any other, going to bed hoping that tomorrow will be work as usual. Next day plans were properly arranged, without knowing what the night would bring. It was not cold that night but I woke up from my sleep around midnight feeling cold and I had a fever that made me shiver. I share the room with my host’s daughter, so I asked her for more beddings. It was as if I had been sick for weeks. I took some painkillers, and then slowly the dreamland stole my mind and I was fast asleep. In the morning, my head was pounding, the fever was not gone, my host’s daughter had gone. I could not manage to get up from my bed, not even call for help. The only thing I remembered doing was calling my supervisor to let him know that I was sick and I needed to get help. I also texted my fellow volunteer who we work in the same district.
After my site mate got the message, he called me, only to be greeted by the sad tone of my voice. He knew things were not fine, so he arranged to see me immediately. It is harvest time in my community, so none of my neighbours were at home, but even if they were, I still could not gather the strength to walk out and tell them about my sickness. Around midday, I heard a knock on my door, I was still on my bed. Unable to wake up and move, not even answering them. The main door was opened, they called my name, but I could not respond. Then my bedroom door was open, it was my site mate and my host father. I do not know how they had met, all I knew was they were in the house. Looking at my condition, they arranged for transport to take me to the hospital. The rest would be better explained by them as I did not know how I got at the hospital.
I will still borrow my father’s words on that night, he told me that whatever happens where you are going, we will be the last ones to know, therefore make sure you stay well with people. When you do good, the news will reach us, but if you do bad, the news will reach us faster than you know. True to his words, they were the last people to know about my sickness after I had gotten all the necessary treatment. During my time in the hospital, none of my relatives showed up, not because they would not come but I already had a big family that took care of me. I have only been in my community for three months, but I feel like I have been here for years. I would not ask for more. I got all the care I needed. My community became my family. As I write today, I am still speechless of how people would be so kind and caring towards others, especially those they do not fully know. I have realised that friendships are treasures to your life, if you nurse them well, they will become your guardian angels. Strive to make peace with people all the time.