Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Chikondi Felix Dula
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” – Desmond Tutu.
After being refined and reshaped in our understanding of Development during the intense six weeks of Pre-service training, where there was an in-depth exposition of Asset Based Community Development and Human Centered Design, I was determined to go into the community and be the catalyst of change. Rooted in the deep sense that Africa can develop within herself, I was full of hope and determination that the moment I appeared in the community I would just search out some deep treasures hidden in the community, connect them, and initiate a development revolution that has never happened in the history of Malawian community.
The day I hoped for came when they dropped me at my site in the Nyundo community which is located in Dowa district, the central region of Malawi and I was received with great smiles from different community members. Many people from the community came to greet me and I could see a lot of expectations in their faces. I could see them eagerly waiting to see the Kind of development I brought to the community. I could hear some saying that I had come to teach them soap-making while some were saying that I had come to teach them new skills since the previous Volunteer had implemented a soap-making project with a certain Cooperative group.
We walked around the villages in the Group Village Nyundo, appreciating the beautiful landscape and the few different kinds of trees remaining in the area. I was able to hear the sound of birds singing as a sign that even nature welcomed us to the area. In Nyundo village, there is a vast land resource where most of the families have enough land to grow crops both for food and for sale compared to my home district where almost every household has a little piece of land. Despite having enough land the majority of the community members do not have enough food to eat the whole year as most of them rent these fields to refugees who are staying closer to my site at Dzaleka. It was frustrating knowing if they can utilize the resources they have it’s possible to achieve Zero hunger.
Another interesting thing was to see that almost every household has pigs and they do keep the pigs since they use the pig’s dung to make manure which they apply in their farms and they also sell some of the manure. Some of the community members explained to me that after realizing that the land had lost its fertility they started applying manure to restore the lost fertility.
Some of the community members are also irrigation farmers and they have gardens where they grow different crops such as Irish potatoes, Maize, tomatoes, onions, and different kinds of vegetables for domestic use and sale. Some of these farmers have been allowing me to shadow them in their gardens as one way of integrating with them, hence at the same time learning their farming practices.
The hope keeps on rising each day looking at the human, social, institutional, physical, and economic assets of the community that if these are connected in new ways they can bring the change and the development the community wants and turn their failures into glorious success. As we continue to walk through this journey of hope, I have great hope that Africa has great potential to develop within herself.
Indeed, I agree with Jonas Salk that “Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality”