Seven weeks in… time is going so quickly! As we are approaching the rainy season here, the days are getting muggy. We’re lucky enough to have a fan in our room, without which it would be very uncomfortable to sleep. The few days of rain we have had have been intense, with the dusty roads transforming into mudslides and children can be seen running through them bare foot. The power cuts are becoming more frequent, with a full day of uninterrupted power being a God’s gift; I blame the weather.
On a more positive note we are smashing our targets, with peer sessions alone, we have reached over 3000 children. However, walking out of the classrooms I can’t help wondering how much of what’s been said has got through, but such doubts vanish when I hear the young voices floating through the valleys chanting our message ‘school is cool’.
I feel I have adjusted well to Malawian life although I mustn’t become complacent. I have slotted into a routine of getting up with the sunrise and falling blissfully asleep at 9pm after a dinner consisting of Nsima and/or Mpunga (rice). It’s safe to say that my Christmas feast will be exceptional this year! I do love this country but it’s exhausting constantly being the centre of attention; I’m used to a life of just blending in at home, but here the shouts and jeers, although not intentionally aggressive, really get to me and our peaceful weekends away from Chivavi are essential; our Malawian safe-haven.
The further we progress into our placement the cultural differences between the UK volunteers and the national volunteers have presented themselves. In the UK, I’ve been brought up always wanting and being able to express my opinion with a constant desire to be heard; whether that’s something I want to admit to or not, it’s true. However, for some of my Malawian counterparts, they may not always have the opportunity to be heard. The importance of diversity in everyday life has never been so apparent. T.I.A (this is Africa) is a phrase that often pops to mind.
Written by ICS volunteer Ellie Craven-Todd