While still fresh and eager to make a difference in society, volunteerism never crossed my mind. Earning while still young always won the priority. However, ideas area conceived and, with experience, modification is inevitable. We live in a community where one’s mess is somebody’s stress. As such there has to be that individual willing to put to halt the mess and sensitise a change for the betterment of all. That someone had and has to be me and so my turning point was quick.

Soon after graduating from different schools, my colleagues and I joined Progressio’s ICS programme and are volunteering alongside local organisation Tovwirane HIV & AIDS Organisation (THAO), which is located in the northern region of Malawi. Being a cosmopolitan placement, my expectations from a personal development and citizen service provision perspective were quite mixed. Primarily, I was excited to learn that our placement team will comprise of UK volunteers and us the national volunteers. It was time to improve on my communication skills. Nonetheless, our cultural differences evoked my media-based prejudice. We could not tolerate each other’s ideas, I hastily concluded.

But all of that could come to a shock. Upon spending the first day with the UK volunteers, I was tempted to conclude on a journey that was not yet began: “We will have fun!”. Having fun does not appear on the Progressio ICS’ to-do list. A change must be wrought to the communities. Our team (Team Kulimbikiska) has a task to peer educate, sensitise on HIV & AIDS, HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) and campaign for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). This sole objective sweeps all our cultural differences. We are birds of the same feathers.

In order to achieve our objectives and meet targets, planning was essential. Based on the fact that our targets might have communication problems if English is employed throughout the sessions, basic Tumbuka language lessons have been conducted. The lessons covered basic to be frequently used words and questions like, “Kasi ndingayowoya namwe vya HIV?” (Can I speak with you about HIV?), for instance. In addition, knowledge on Sexually Transmitted Infections, HTC, HIV & AIDS, condom use demonstration, VMMC and general peer education techniques had to be imparted to the team. There the common ground was rested; young people using their different backgrounds to learn from each other whilst promoting a positive change. We are Team Kulimbikiska (literally, Team Promoting), promoting the change we dream to have! 

Written by ICS volunteer Aimloss Greyfield Banda