Team Chikaya have almost finished their first round of peer education sessions with Musegede and Champhira youth clubs, and I love what the youth and the volunteers are doing. Before our first session started we played games. Girls played netball while boys played football. The boys had to wait for the girls to finish because they only have one ball. Only two volunteers Holly Barker and Tawonga Kamanga partook in netball, while Jon Sim, Isaac Murry, Richard and I played football. We were on different sides and it was great fun. People were happy to play with the azungu. They enjoyed it when the UK volunteers failed to control the ball, people could be heard shouting. But all in all it was great and we enjoyed it.
Playing football at Musegede
With Team Leaders and other volunteers engaged with focus groups, we had to keep the youth busy. We played a game locally known as nyamanyama, translating literally as animal-animal, where animal names were being called and if the animal’s meat is edible you were supposed to go inside the circle we made.
The surprising thing was that Khadija, a UK volunteer, was the last one amongst the volunteers though she hardly knew the names being called out as only tumbuka language was used in calling the names of the animals. During this session, I also had a new game introduced by the UK volunteers where we were supposed to touch on the head or the waist and a coin was being tossed and when the coin shows head those touching their waist are dropped from the game and when it shows tail those touching the head are out. This happens until we have one person who is deemed a winner. It was new to many of us locals and we enjoyed it as it was our first time playing it. I was happy to learn two new games, one from my fellow Malawians and the other from the UK volunteers.
Translating English to Tumbuka
Most of the youths in the youth groups we are working with have problems with English. This aspect forces us to interpret most of the content delivered by the UK volunteers. This is the biggest challenge on the part of communication. The national volunteers also have to interpret Tumbuka into English for the benefit of the UK volunteers, which sometimes dilutes the real message one wants to communicate. The sessions were well taught and both the UK and national volunteers were comfortable with the way it was delivered. I was very happy, together with all the national volunteers as we reached an agreement with the UK volunteers, that we can’t just be interpreters but to also take a leading role in the delivery of the content and this made the people realise that national volunteers are not just interpreters.
If there is a thing the team was proud of is the layout of the second session
Divided into three workshops, the session was welcomed by the Team Leader since it was not boring but interesting to both us the volunteers and them the youths, which made it easy to deliver the content. The group was split and topics were shared amongst the volunteers. The following were the discussed topics:
1. Sexually transmitted infections
2. Disability and rights
3. HIV & AIDS
Our second session missed one member, Holly, who flew back to UK to attend the funeral of her grandad. It’s a bad experience not having her and the week got worse when Isaac and Khadija got ill and, because of poor health services here in Mzimba, we had to take them to Mzuzu and the whole team went with them. Though her absence was felt, the team still managed to deliver the second session using fun and workshops. I enjoyed meeting the guys who look eager to get things from us and I feel proud to be part of it all.
Kick starting capital for the youths
The Team Leaders met with the Chiefs and leaders of Champhira and Musegede to recommend a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) to support their youths. The local finance would allow trained vocational skills youth to borrow money to buy resources to earn a living. The profit can be reinvested into savings. The leaders support the idea and now we must continue to implement and offer the youths training in business planning so they can apply for a loan.
Shaking hands with community leaders and Chiefs
The last thing I would like to share is the team bonding activity. It was nice as all the members present in our team, both the national and UK volunteers, went to Nkhata Bay on 14 May to take part in the team bonding activity. What I thought was going to be fun and fun only turned into something greater, as it wasn’t just a fun exercise. A number of discussions that will help us in the remaining period took place. For instance, the national volunteers discussed how it is at work with the UK volunteers and how some common problems can be tackled. So the trip yielded more than what was basically planned.
Written by ICS volunteer Patrick Moyo