Starting as my competitors during the recruitment exercise, Taonga Kamanga, Memory Msowoya, Richard Munthali, Kennedy Nkhata and Chiza Kumwenda have been a strong team since being told that we were successful to work as national volunteers for Progressio. After our pre-placement orientation training the team got stronger. Our common fear was how we would get along with the UK volunteers. Most of us, if not all, had fears on what type of UK volunteers we were going to have. Our negative thinking was crashed after the first meeting with them. We are now all curious waiting for time to go to the communities where we are to help the community in sexual and reproductive health and disability, as well as vocational skills.

I have noted that the UK volunteers are so friendly and understanding as opposed to being difficult as I thought. I have been pleased by their cooperation and work rate. I am also happy to see how eager they are to help develop my country Malawi in the areas of youth health and vocational skills. The way I feel as a national volunteer now that the UK volunteers are finally here is quite different because I didn’t expect us to form a strong bond so fast. I feel more determined with what we are going to be doing and I just can’t wait for the time we are to start going to field sharing all sorts of information and experience.

From the great relationships we already have with the UK volunteers, it’s my belief that we are going to reach our targets with ease. I am motivated by the fact that we are the first International Citizen Service (ICS) placement to work with local organisation Communities In Development Activities (COIDA), so I am happy to be part of the first team in the first cycle. I can’t wait to start helping the communities, especially my fellow youths, with Team Chikaya. Our team has been named ‘Chikaya’, a Tumbuka name to mean ‘Community’, since the partner organisation COIDA works with communities.

The team has so far finished planning on the sessions we are to conduct, starting next week. We have also been briefed on how to overcome the possible barriers as we try to deliver our messages to the youth.

I have hope we will achieve a lot over our placement and also believe it will be exceptionally rewarding to both me and the communities.

Written by ICS volunteer Patrick Austus Chitota Moyo