Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Adorah Gertrude Maere
Volunteering in my community and helping people there, allowed me to see other corners of this country and other people that have the same goals and the same purpose. I met people from different backgrounds, religions, and cultures each with their ideas, experiences, and desires living together in harmony. We got to share so much of these. Volunteering at a secondary school was what I can explain as one of my integration or networking sensations, where we heard from each other different perspectives and realities.
In my personal experience as a Volunteer at the secondary school, I met a boy named Waliko Matola (pseudonym). Waliko was absent from school for at least two days each week. Whenever he made it to school, he was very bright and active in class to the extent that one would notice if he was present or absent on each given day. On Thursday I gave my student a test and he managed to get the highest score than everyone else. I called him under the mango tree and had a one-on-one chat for at least an hour. In that conversation, he told me how he is a breadwinner for his family because his mother had been sick for some time now and they have been without a father for as long as he could remember. He said he has two younger siblings and they are all looking up to him to eat every day. He said he does piece work which helps him find money to buy food for his family as well as drugs for his sick mother. ‘This isn’t a big deal though, but when I add fees to that list, it now becomes very tough.’ He said. Currently, I am working extra hard so that I can also pay for my school fees since they have already started to send me back from school. This is making me work on two fields to find the fees in time. He said. This was making him work even during school days to finish in time and pay the fees before the examination period. At this point, I didn’t have the strength to ask more questions until this day. I did not know that a 14-year-old could pass through what he was going through and still manage to be strong enough to endure it all. But still, I needed to probe more to understand his situation better. Waliko looked at me, sad, and said; ‘Madame, it’s easy to give up when you know someone else will come through for you. But when you know you are all there is, giving up is never an option. I nodded with pain in my heart and told Waliko that he had a very bright future and he should never give up on it. I then went ahead and informed the head teacher of everything, and he said it was very unfortunate that he did not know this. He then called me a few days later and informed me that Waliko had been added to the bursary program and that he would be given back the fees he already managed to pay this term. This made me so emotional knowing one future has pulled away from distraction. When I called him to break the news to him, he cried and hugged me and promised to work so hard in class. Together we smiled, joked, and laughed for it was well with our souls. I now know that it doesn’t take one to be rich to change another person’s life. But even with enough empathy and a listening ear, we can.