Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Dingaan Kafundu
“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many lives…” – Clarence, It’s A Wonderful Life
Picture this. You and your buddy are off to a sunny, new, lakeshore destination. Endless beaches with glorious white sand. The whole lot. It doesn’t stop there though. You get to live in a pretty big 4-bedroom house that’s just a 5-minute walk from your white beach haven. And work? Well, you get to change the lives of people in ways they will never forget, in just your vest, shorts, and a pretty cool pair of flip-flops. Sounds like the life, right?….right?
Well, I mean, yeah maybe. Unless you count having to move your bed almost every night to dodge the leaks (yes, plural) from the badly done roofing. Or the small matter of the locals taking advantage and blowing the price of ndiwo (relish) out of proportion just because ‘he’s a walking money bag.’ Then there’s also the weird rumors made about you. And well, as much as I knew that actually getting the locals to fully understand our work would be a heck of a climb, I think I slightly underestimated just how steep it would really be.
The people at my site are a very proud group of Malawians, as are any people from the village. Proud of their heritage, proud of their language, proud of their culture, and the list goes on and on. As much as this is extremely admirable, it does pose a challenge or two being an outsider coming in. Because of their level of pride, trying to educate them on changing their basic way of living for the betterment of their lives is definitely not easy. But, is life ever easy? The challenge to help is huge but so is the desire, in both the volunteer (me) and the community.
With this being said, the community is looking forward to the start of our project. The few people that have committed themselves are showing that they want to be the change they can be. Very few things in the life of a CorpsAfrica Volunteer bring as much joy as hard-working community members. The community and I know that with the dedication promised, it will be the success they deserve.
As much as the experience has been nothing short of eye-opening, I’ve recently found the best way to get through it all is to embrace that everything happening is just part of the experience. The highs and the lows; it’s all part and parcel. I’m just taking it one day at a time and letting the experience surprise me.