Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Funny Maseya
Here we are in Mzimba, Thoza! I should be honest with you; I did not like the idea of coming to Mzimba. During training, we were given an opportunity to choose where we would like to be placed. So I was like, “Yes! This is the moment I had waited for.” Excitedly, I opted for Kasungu, Mchinji, and Lilongwe. However, my coordinator, cautioned “Don’t get too excited, this does not necessarily mean you will only be placed where you have chosen, we may make changes you see?” Well, despite the warning; that inner voice in me still said, “She is just kidding, you will go to one of those areas of your choice.” If only I had known.
I remember bragging to my friends how excited we would be if they should place each of us in our respective areas of choice. We happily anticipated the day they would reveal our destinations until “Boom!” it finally dawned upon us. The announcement was made, and for me it was a resounding “Mzimba!” And it was like a nightmare happening in broad daylight. You can imagine how disappointed I was. You might be wondering what made this disappointment scale from 0 scales to 90. Well, I thought about the language itself, though I knew how to speak Tumbuka, but I wasn’t that fluent in it. “How am I going to make stories in Tumbuka?” I asked myself. “What about the people? Will they welcome me warmly? Where will I be sleeping and with whom? What about the food there? Am I going to manage an abrupt switch from my favourite dishes to their local delicacies? Several other inconsistent and, many times, unreasonable questions raced through my mind at the thought of going to Mzimba of all places.
To my surprise, the first day I reached my host family everyone there was evidently so excited to have me. I could even hear them comparing me to the last Volunteer. One woman said “huh! Banthu aba mbamoza na, bakughanana baka namyankhe yula” (these people are just the same, this new one resembles with the other one who has since left.” This quickly made me gather up a big smile within me and I secretly laughed while slowly assuring myself “I am already home after all.” They greeted me and told me to feel free around them as I was at home away from home.
Home indeed I quickly found it to be. They gave me my own bungalow just right next to theirs. They cooked me Nsima with beans which turned out to be one of my favorite meals. Well I was not alone, these people made sure that I did not lack anything. They went out of their way to cater even for my personal and emotional needs. They always come to my house to greet me and make sure I am fine. With the passage of time we have become more like one family. I go to their house and eat freely, of course, on the other hand, they also come to my house and ask for anything, which if I have I will always give them.
I remember, their daughter jokingly (but seriously) putting it bluntly to me one day, “I don’t know what I will do when you leave this place, I will greatly miss you.” Hearing this from her made and still makes me sad, as I should indeed soon be leaving this place, and I know I will ever greatly appreciate and miss the kindness these people have so far shown me. Their warmth, support, and kindness are a gift I never expected to receive. I now constantly find I would have to forgive myself a thousand times for the wrong presumptions I once had about Mzimba because, contrary to my wild suppositions, I am not homesick in any way perceivable; I have a home I never expected I would have here.