As we are at the end of our placement we have decided to write a group blog about how the placement has been for everyone in Team Nyenyezi:
I have had amazing moments in my life but being an ICS volunteer has been the best moment ever. Being a Team Leader I have experienced a lot from my fellow volunteers and from the other people that I have worked with. I have been able to build my self-confidence through the activities that we have done such as leading meetings, taking part in community events, and making the presentations. ICS has really helped to build my self-confidence and I have a new belief in myself that will last forever.
Having never led a team before prior to this experience, I was unsure of what to expect. I’ve faced challenges and uncertainty as a Team Leader but, most importantly, I’ve watched the development and growth of the team over the last three months. I’m proud of our achievements in the project and the bond we’ve formed as a group. I have been welcomed whole-heartedly into my host family and have developed such admiration and respect for them all and so will be very sad to say goodbye when the time comes to leave. My experience as a whole has been mind-blowing; I’ve learned not only about Malawi and development work but also about myself, my leadership style and how my perspective on the world has changed for the better.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in Rumphi, especially being able to live with my host family and being so welcomed into the community. Working with SPRODETA (Small Producers, Development and Transporters Association)/Progressio has allowed me to have a better insight into how the communities live and I’ve learnt far more about the Malawian culture then I did before I arrived. Also working alongside, a diverse team (national and UK volunteers) has helped improve my ability to work with others, with different opinions, abilities and work styles. I appreciate being able to join the local netball team but due to the season being over they haven’t trained since May. Despite this, whenever I see them I get a very friendly welcome and it’s great to still feel part of the team. This whole experience has been an emotional roller-coaster, yet I wouldn’t have changed anything and also wanted to thank those who helped me get here.
Life is all about learning new things and having great experiences of how others live their life. ICS has made me learn new things and helped me to have some ideas. It was great during the placement as I enjoyed all the field work, it was amazing learning different types of work I have never done before. Doing team work and having team spirit was what gave me courage to work together as one in Team Nyenyezi.
I have loved living with my host family in Rumphi, gaining an insight into their lives and learning about Malawian culture. It has been so interesting to live here as a Malawian rather than just coming as a tourist and gaining a glossy overview of the country, which is how I have travelled in the past. I have found working here to be extremely frustrating due to the slow pace and difference in work styles, however this means I have learnt to become a more patient, flexible and understanding person - all skills which will be helpful in the future. I now have a greater understanding of international development and would definitely like to work within the charity sector again.
Life is gradual stage of learning involving both predicaments and achievements. My experience during the April - June 2016 placement has been both challenging and helpful in terms of my personal development, as one of the objectives of the ICS programme. During the first couple of weeks of the placement l faced two main challenges. To begin with, l was not able to talk to the audience as it mainly comprised of the elderly and chiefs. This was hard for me as l had to translate from English to Tumbuka. Apart from this, the other challenge was that it was hard for me to interact with the UK volunteers as we are people with different characters (short tempered, commanding, not sociable). Though all this happened, as time went by l gained courage and confidence in presenting information to all classes and groups of people. This has indeed helped me as l will be able to do presentations when l go to university. In addition to this, l have learnt how to interact with people of different characters. Due to this, I really conclude that the ICS programme has helped in my personal development.
Christopher James Purnell II
The thing I was looking forward to the most prior to coming to Malawi was the chance to ingrain myself into the local community, and although I have been very happy with our project and the way it has progressed, this intuition couldn’t be any more correct. Being the only Azungus (white people) around, the stares and constant attention gave me a glance into the life of a Z-list celebrity and took a lot of getting used to, the smiling faces around Rumphi have always been a joy and the interactions with the community have always been very positive. During my time here I have tried to get involved with the Rumphi life as much as possible, be it interviewing local chiefs, social workers and witchdoctors for my blog or playing football for the local football team. Training four times a week and playing matches at the weekend in the second tier of Malawian football with the Rumphi Medicals FC has definitely been a highlight. From scoring on my African football debut in front of over 500 people to the day-to-day laughs at training, it really has been an unforgettable experience. This last point really shows how these blogs can have a positive impact upon a volunteer’s experience as it is through a blog on the Progressio website that I found out about a previous volunteer’s participation with the football team. For that and the whole experience with the project, I am more than thankful.
Learning is a gradual process of discovering new things in one’s life. Learning has been successful during my placement in such that I know so many things I never knew. I am now able to construct a tippy tap and vertical garden and explain the recommended features of a rubbish pit, just to mention a few. I strongly believe that the things that I have learnt will help me to overcome some of the obstacles that may come my way during my life’s journey.
My time in Malawi has flown by, the feelings of excitement and awe that I felt upon arrival in Malawi are still fresh in my mind. I must admit however that there have been challenges; adapting to the Malawian pace and differing work styles of my team, especially the national volunteers, as well as getting used to the realities of what international development organisations are and are not capable of. Overall, my experience has been positive. I have been pushed to adapt to make the most of each situation and to help the project succeed. When I look back on my time on placement, I know that I will not remember the moments of frustration and stress but instead the incredible times I have spent with my team and my host family.
Travelling to Malawi, coming to offer kindly volunteer service, exploring the lovely scenery and connecting with people has been a life changing experience for me. It has taken me time to adjust to the living here and to understand the Malawian culture and the important objectives regarding my team’s project plan, but as the weeks of the programme have passed I have slowly adapted to make the most of my time here. To have a chance to work with an international support group who empower people that live in rural communities and to change the lives of thousands for the better is something I’ve always wanted to try because I believe in the greater good. Change begins with decisions, persistence and commitment. Those are the words I live by to encourage myself and others to develop high moral standards. This experience has involved me working alongside a diverse team, which has helped enhance my ability to communicate more effectively, to redefine my skills that I have learnt throughout my life and develop new skills, which I may find useful for the future. They have even reinforced my belief that working proactively allows any achievement to be possible. I will treasure every moment I have had here in Malawi. I will do my best to stay connected with the friends I’ve made and encourage others to join ICS on their mission to help people in underdeveloped countries.
“Awesome…” It is astonishing upon seeing good moments of placements that l never expected. This placement has contributed a lot as far as remarkable events in my life. I liaised with different people such as Chiefs, CADECOM officials and Action Aid, just to mention a few. This was part and parcel of my work to collaborate.
Written by ICS Team Nyenyezi