TIMING, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS.

Being a Corps Africa Volunteer is one of the interesting things. I get to know and learn all sorts of things in life, community and developing/ exploring new skills and knowledge while at the same time I am sharing what I have. Responding to fortnightly questions, monthly project tracker in time, attended a community meeting and a village bank/ loan group meeting and being visited by the CorpsAfrica Country Director are some of the activities that took place in the last month here in kadewere village.

Responding to fortnightly questions is part of the mandatory area of being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer. This tracks every volunteer on how she/he is doing in the community interms of integrating into the community and personal changes, how many partners one is working with and if any progress of project implementation is being made and if any community, CorpsAfrica, other influential people or organization support is needed for any project. Not so far from the fortnightly questions, monthly project tracker helps to map the way forward of the project implementation because above all, a volunteer has to implement any project being either funded or not but as far a sit is making an impact on community members lives, that is a project and it could be services, infrastructures, trainings and anything one can think of.

Attending community meetings is an ongoing activities as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer. It could be both organised by others and i get invited or myself organise a community meeting as a volunteer. Last month, I attended a community meeting organised by the Group Village Headman Kadewere. She called for a meeting with all four villages  Makoloma, Chilungulo, Kathebwe and Kadewere that are under her rulling but only Village Development Committees ( VDC) and Health Committees in every village were in attendance. The chief wanted to share the information that she took from the Area Development Committee. But among all, the VDC and health committees were given a task of visiting each and every household in their respective villages to find out if their is a toilet covered with a lid and water / soap outside the toilet  hand wash kupewa kudyerana manyi ( to avoid eating each others fieces) hence preventing diarrhoea. She continued to say, that information should be reported to the chief in a time limit given and If the village will follow that, in conjunction of the three organizations ADRA Malawi, Plan Malawi and Mulanje Mission Hospital will provide that village with a borehole as their gift and at the end an action plan was given to the committees to do the work.IMG_20160604_163829.jpg

Attended a village bank/ loan group meeting was something that interested me in that month. The idea was to just have an insight of what and how the activities are done and also to interact with another group of people in the community in order to continue strengthen my integration. After everyone has put his / her money share, some interested people can borrow the money as a loan and they are given a specific time to return the money with a small interest on top of it that at the end of the bank will share among themselves coz everyone is encouraged to borrow the money.

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Being visited by the CorpsAfrica Country Director Mr Adam Gaskins at site was an owesome thing. He got to see what activities am doing here in Kadewere after being reading a blog every month. I also felt good with his visit as it was his first time. 

Lastly, a lot is still going and as usual I will keep updating you in whatever activity I am doing in Kadewere and keep following me so that you should learn alot and I know that with this will make someone be interested in serving as a CorpsAfrica Volunteer one day. Mpaka mwezi Wa mawa pamene ndizabweretse zina ndingoti tsalani bwino and keep reading!!!!😁😂😃😉 Sikomo kedyinji!!!

FAMILIAZATION VERSUS STABLIZATION

  1. Community Development work has always been my interest of work since I was young while I was getting knowledge and skills from the youth organization I was working with before i joined CorpsAfrica. That knowledge stayed in me and wanted to do more of it. I was also encouraged and have confidence to study Community Development itself at college so as to dig deeper. I came very familiar of working with individuals of different backgrounds despite of their culture, age, sex, disability, tribe, socio- economic status, religion, skin colour, nationality and of course political affiliations. Being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer now is helping me to continue exploring more on my community development knowledge and skills and also discover a lot on what am good at and whom i like to interact in general discovering my full personalities.

My personalities could be a starting point of my another paragraph because being a CorpsAfrica Volunteer here in is helping to even explore a lot and be able to know how to handle people of all ages. I  spend most of time here at FOMO. In the morning helping/ teaching nursery school kids and in the afternoon with youths. On themselves kids have a lot of expressions and want to discover alot of things as they are growing. Recalling from my last blog, aduntu madam a Ku FOMO, a name that some kids call me, I never get angry or frustrated with them but rather keep smiling coz i know they are kids and even if fights happen in class, i act as a mediator to them. This humanity in me is what i call myself being familiar with people of all ages.

Apart form helping/ teaching the nursery school kids at FOMO, GRS has been my song in almost my blog coz they are activities that i enjoy most with the youth. This is another group of people that i need to be smart when handling them otherwise they can make me fail or success with my project coz they are now going deeper in exploring the words issues. I am saying this through my past experience  that I had an unexpected outcome that I had to restart with GRS project coz I was not satisfied with their turn up and absenteesm that most of them did not reach the expected number of topics for one to graduate with GRS. Through that I leant that one has to be tough enough in order to accomplish your objectives but am not saying with a 100%. So this time I have been strict that no matter what a number of participants I will have who atleast attended eightntopics and above I still graduate them with a graduation ceremony so that others should feel motivated and attracted.

I guess CorpsAfrica did deriberatery in allocating atleast two volunteers in its most districts that they can learn and help one another in both good and bad times. It was great that one of my sitemates Abdellah and Soukaina were cerebrating their opening of Chile Center which is one of the working partners here in Mulanje. It was an amazing project that in a month the whole project was done. Being on their side, the project went well coz they worked so hard and also hand in hand with FOMO staff as well as the community as part of the community contributions and sustainability issues. I hope Abdellah and Soukaina  are responsible to talk more about this but for mebinjust wanna say CONGRATURATIONS to Abdellah and Soukaina i could not help to talk a little bit of it in this blog.

To conclude with, community development work is fun and interesting. I get to interact with people even of high standard living. I came familiar with other peoples lives and of course when time  goes I am getting stable and now I call it home.Mulanje is now my second home away from home and my host family has turned into my second biological family and then my relatives all over the community. Kids, youths and adults has been my friends and they are able to notice me when am away. Mwina sindizapitanso kwathu hahahaha ndikhala konkuno basi ine sindizapitanso kwathu (joking)!!! Untill my next blog zikomo kwambiri for following . Zabwino zikupitilira kubwera.

OFF A JOURNEY OF INTEGRATION

A month now has gone since I got here in Kadewere village. It has been a month that i have been doing much transition and integrating myself into this community. Meeting and interacting with different people, attending and calling for both community meetings and Village Development Committees to just have insights on development issues that are taking place in this community, teaching nursery school in the morning and Grass Root Soccer to the youth in the afternoon at Friends Of Mulanje Orphans in Kadewere Centre are the most activities that I have done in the past month. That was the most and interesting part of it in the sense that getting to know a community and its peoples behaviors has an impact on its own and you get to collect community information.

When school started on the 11th April 2016, I started off a journey to first few days shadowing two nursery school teachers and then ended up of myself being one of them. Most of the kids who goes to this school are orphans but others goes as private kids and they pay a little fee amounting k250 and they also eat porridge at break time. So, as most kids are within the community, we probably meet and when they see me they are like madam muzatiphunzitsa mawa?? (Madam are you gonna teach us tomorrow??) And am like yes I will and they laugh! That sense of homour in kids makes me so happy and think how clever and cute they are. Also some kids has been telling their parents and few of them in my presence while  pointing at me saying “kunabwera madam achiduntu Ku FOMO awo” ( we have a fat madam at FOMO” and I know that sounds disgusting  but to me its OK because it means kids are able to identify me or whatever reasons they want to tell their parents hope in a positive way. So, as I am walking around this community am known by two names madam achiduntu from the orphan centre, aunt from those around my host family.

Teaching Grass Root Soccer is one of the activities that I have been doing with young people in the afternoon hours at FOMO. The first group is about to graduate. I can see and feel when teaching that the youth are having fun and energizer songs that i have been teaching them are everywhere in the community. GRS so far has been one of my project that I just introduced because i couldn’t wait any longer to implement and such that it is costless. I am now about to finish the first phase of it. HIV Limbo is one of the activity in GRS that is more fun as one limbo under the string but making sure that you should not attach the string and if you do it means you catch HIV Virus and  the height gets lower from abstainance stage to older sexual relationships.

I also called for a Village Development Committee meeting and on the agenda was just to hear on how the VDC works, its history but also how they priotize or deal with development issues in this village. VDC is the centre of every development work in the comunity and organizations that work in the community are wel known by VDC committee and they are able to give insights of projects that can be done or done before by other organizations in the community in general they have all that data. These kind of meetings are more helpful as they will help me to fully involve the community during my future project implementation.

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Also a lot of activies has been taking place at Kadewere centre. I have been cooking nsima that the kids eat when they come before doing any activity. Their are three women that are assigned to cook at the centre but as a volunteer I also enjoy helping them. Also at the centre their is a garden and we planted sweet potatoes because we still receiving the rains and those potatoes gonna be used by the kids themselves.

As I said that I am in an integration stage of exprolling, observing and understanding everything in this community, my whole hope is to help this community in every means I have for a better community development. Until we meet again next month i say keep reading and following my blog for more updates. Tiwonana!!!!!

 

 

 

HELP COMMUNITY, HELP MALAWI

My name is Assiatu Pongolani based in Mulanje as a Corps Africa Volunteer and i am here for only a week now. But it does not mean i am new in a Corps Africa family. I was in Nsanje district and just moved down here. A lot has been going through to reach this point in Mulanje to finally call it home. The day that Corps Africa staff and i went to Nsanje to finally say goodbye, on our way their were so many things that we went throughthrough. We met a bunch of cattle for a couple of times with no one to direct them and makes difficult for the car to pass through. We were almost hit  a girl child on the road because they wanted to pass through the road while holding hands with each other but the driver did his best to avoid her and later managed to stop. We arrived in Nsanje where our house was. The house Is within the school campus. One of the Corps Africa staff Katherine who accompanied us Is white, we got a lot of students who came where we were packing our bags into a car. But while other students were helping taking the bags out of the house, others were busy shecking hands to Katherine meaning she was sorrounded by more than 200 kids getting a hand sheck from her while she sat under a mango tree looking for a shade in a hot day of Nsanje.

We started off the journey back to Blantyre and the road struggles were also underway. We arrived in a certain area where we had a flat tire but actually the nail hit the tire and the car did not have a spare tire so the driver had to rush to Bangula in Chikwawa to get the tire fixed and while we were waiting, on the same point the car battery died. It was so hot and we could not force ourself to stay in a car but rather going to a certain woman house stayed under the tree chatting while Katherine and I were playing bawo game and that was an owesome time to wait for the car to get fixed. The car was fixed and started off the journey again. Next was passing through the funeral on its way to the graveyard and people were all over the road and the driver had to beg for a little space to pass. Guess what will happen next??? That was the question that Katherine asked me and i answered I don’t know!!!! But the next thing was my bucket full of items fell from the car and I lost most of the items that were in it and people who came to witness the incident took them because they were all broken and sadly had to start buying all over again.

Now Mulanje here I come, that I am calling my home, my community and my Malawi. Arrived on Saturday the 26 March, 2016 in a lovely host family of Mrs Makanjira. Kadewere village has 427 households with a population of 1356 and the village is somewhere scartered and the people depend mostly on farming. Their are tea estates around this area which is beautiful and a small trading centre called Thabwa where one can buy some of the daily needs and people in this area are more religious.On Sunday morning around 6:30 am Maxon who is the chairperson  of one of Corps Africa working partners called Friends Of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO) in Kadewere village came to greet and escot me to the Chief who is a woman (lovely). The chief was very happy to have me in the community and she is willing to work with me in any other development work. She proceeded to say I should be flexible and confident in working in this area  and if any challenges arise or something bad happen to me, I should right away report to her before I report to anywhere even to Corps Africa staff. I felt that was nice and felt welcomed into this community. She also continued to say, she will introduce me other committees that are within the community such as Village Development Committee and others.

Monday the 28 March,2016 was Easter holiday but for me was not because i went to FOMO centre for the first time to introduce myself to people who works there as well as kids. It was nice and continued to feel welcomed as kids asked me so many questions including if they might be visiting me at home for chat, hope i will no longer feel lonely in this community. On the same, as FOMO has secondary students whom they stay at a boarding school and they are now on holiday, Maxon asked me to deliver HIV/AIDS information to those students through Grass Root Soccer curriculum before going back to school on the 11 April. I felt that it is too much work and tiresome to do GRS everyday for two weeks but at the same time, i felt it is the only way to incorporate myself and getting to know the kids very well and making them to be open with me. So I started GRS on the next day which the kids really liked because of the kilos, cheers and of course energizers that I am good at.

As I said the Chief is lovely, she came the other day to my host family house just to check on me. She also came together with the VDC chairperson coz they also wanted to pass  an invitation to me concerning a meeting that they gonna have about forestry that one of the government workers wanted to conduct so she thought to incorporate me in this meeting  so that I could introduce myself  to all people and the villages around. This was another opportunity for me to get to know other partners that are working within the community. This forestry department worker from the government came to introduce the campaign of planting 30 kesha and mango trees around every borehole in the community in order to stabilize the water table to avoid boreholes to get dry during dry season. He also encouraged every village to have  a Village Natural Resource Management Committee (VNRMC) which will be responsible for dealing with people who are cutting down trees carelessly by even taking them to police station if found. woow!!

My last point of view here in Kadewere village so far has been that, people are willing to work and help themselves first according to the meeting discussions that we had and on top of that, people are nice and welcoming. Since community development consists of working hand in hand both with the community people and the adviser, I think the community that I have wanting to help is this one and people are self starter that will help in successful project implementation.  And today I am happy and confident to finally call it my second home away from home, my community and my Malawi. Until more updates to come, I say thank you for now.

FIRST EXPRIENCE AT SITE

I have been looking forward to find my new family in nsanje from the moment I sworn- in, in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. We departed from Blantyre to Nsanje on 27 of Feb by the principal secretary of the ministry of youth development, sports and culture who ended up of dropping two of us in one host family who is the headteacher at a primary school. The headteacher unfortunately has two homes of which where we were dropped is not the place where he leaves rather his form two son ( lovely Paul) who finally happen to be our host man.

Above all, we never ever have a spare room for us to sleep. Even though the house has three bedrooms, our bags were on the sitting room and at night, we had to put some of our bags in one side so as we can have a space just to fit in our mattress for us to share in the hottest nights of Nsanje with no where pu hung our mosquito net. No private space for us to change clothes if we wanna have a bath, we had to hide ourselves so that Paul should not see us as he was always around for us. I do cry myself sometimes without Lucy noticing me coz I did not want her to be affected by my emotions. I should appeal here, even though we are Malawians and serving in Malawi, its not easy to adapt in a new environment and culture from that of your home, its really hard at first days but patience is always a good thing that one has to remember.

Mosquitoes here in Nsanje are like pets, I mean they bite morning, afternoon and I don’ t want to talk about nights. Peaceful sleep is our best friend compared to what we could use at Chongoni mountains where we had our pre service training. Our host, Paul at nights has to burn cattle’s dungs coz they say mosquitoe’s run away from the smell and we could stay on the veranda  till 11 pm just to minimise time of going to bed to avoid hotness.

First test

  • My name is Assiatu Pongolani. I am a Corps Africa  volunteer Malawi, group 1. I am looking forward to work where ever district I will be placed. Thanks all for your support. My collegue is also a corps Africa volunteer Soukaina from Morocco and we were there chatting after field work at kaphuka health clinic.IMG_20160216_135237_795