Joseph Meadows, aged 21, is a British volunteer working with Ungweru, one of Progressio’s local partner organisations in Malawi. Until coming to Malawi, Joseph had never moved out of his parents’ home or been away from his closest family and friends. 

Imagine what it could feel like if you were to be away from your family home or country and live in a family or a country where everything is new. Perhaps such questions usually raise a lot of mixed reactions. 

The atmosphere was engulfed by sadness and dissatisfaction when Progressio’s Malawi Country Director, Thomas Msiska, broke the news to the team during a mid-phase review that UK volunteers would be hosted either by a national volunteer or within the community of the local partner organisation.

“The point behind host homes is to give the ICS volunteers from the UK a real taste of Malawian culture, experiencing it in the family where they will be hosted, since the ICS programme is about learning and sharing, so people need to learn from each other”, emphasised Thomas smiling. 

Meanwhile, speaking in an interview with some of the UK volunteers, Annabel Robinson, 18 from Newcastle, said that it’s her first time away from home. She explained that she was sceptical about host homes at first, but after consideration, she’s quite excited about it as it will bring a new experience to her life, as she will be in a typical Malawian home.  

Agata Kowlaska believed everyday life will be challenging and very difficult in a host home, as everything will be new, but she couldn’t wait to see what it will be like.

In his remarks, Joseph expressed, “I don’t think I have any fears, as I feel this is a great opportunity to experience life in Malawi in a Malawi home for the first time and this is my only chance. I feel I would gain more positives than negatives from the host homes. I feel this could have been something more pushed within the ICS placement for ten weeks, though I have loved every minute staying at the hostels and building the relationship as a team. We as a team might have learnt more different things if we stayed in host homes at least forty percent and the other sixty at our hostels”, explains Joseph, who says loves eating Malawian Nsima and misses his hometown. 

Written by ICS national volunteer Joackim Nthala