Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Chancy Simba
I arrived at Pre-Service Training in Dedza together with four other Trainees from Lilongwe about a month ago. I was so excited about changing my life and I believed this opportunity to be a Volunteer came timely. I thought to myself that this was a chance for me to prove to myself how helpful I could be and was an opportunity to change the life of someone in a rural community.
Now Pre-Service Training is over. Volunteers had a great time together and spent a month learning everything like how life will be in their host communities. We made good relationships and we believed we were a great team.
After our Swear-In Ceremony, Volunteers had to leave for their perspective sites. The journey begins now, work awaits in the field, and it was time to experience the real world. I was excited and at the same time afraid of what the community would be like – and the fact that I couldn’t sleep the night before I left for my site made it worse. I was thinking and imaging how my community would be, how they would treat me, and how they would work with me.
I arrived at my site together with fellow Mzimba Volunteers – Hope and Khwima – with excitement, a good feeling, and nothing but love for my new community. We were warmly welcomed by the chiefs, the school teachers and our host families. It was an exciting moment and I felt to myself that I was indeed the young man this community has been waiting for.
A few days later, after I was settled, it was time for me to face reality. I had never been to this side of the country and actually stay here, had never spoken the Chitumbuka language before, and I had no option but learn the language. I became to feel overwhelmed, upset, and irritated much of my first days in my new community; I had no idea it would be this hard. What made it hard was the language, I only knew how to greet someone, and I was embarrassed to talk to people around. This was an unfamiliar environment for me where language ruled.
Well, things changed dramatically for me when one of my landlord’s sons showed up on my door one day and greeted me with a language I grew up with (Chichewa). He came to check if I needed anything. And yes, this was my opportunity. He was a guy who could help me learn the language and my way around here. I found a best friend that day, and although I had felt frustrated for a couple of days this day I felt so excited and hopeful.
Since meeting my landlord’s son I have felt at home and I love that I’m learning the language. It is making my work easier, and I’m so grateful for that because now I can understand and speak a little bit. The journey has just begun, walk with me!