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Want a deeper insight into what an ICS placement looks like? Read the amazing blogs written by our past and present volunteers. Enjoy the journey!
Wow what a great first two weeks – it’s been such an experience in itself already, from the brilliant, inspiring people we’ve met, to adapting to massive new culture shock.
Our first few days of language orientation were extremely hard work but really interesting – our teacher Mr Padozi made learning fun, and as a group we are now starting to pick up the basics and are hoping to be able to say a few sentences by the time we leave.
Lana Johnson, 21, from Kendal, has taken on the challenge to make 7 litres of water last a whole day. She was inspired to see whether or not she could live on just 7 litres of water for 24 hours after she spent time volunteering on an education programme in Villa El Salvador in Peru with Progressio’s International Citizen Service programme earlier this year.
Progressio ICS volunteer Jordan Newbury describes what he has been up to since returning to the UK from Malawi...
Since my return to the UK the journey that I embarked on has had many effects on my work, attitudes, and general thoughts about how we live and work here in the UK. In addition, since the first day that I walked out of Lilongwe Airport in Malawi to the present day, I have felt an array of mixed emotions towards my team, the people I was working directly with, the friends that I made, and also the unexpected culture shock of returning to the UK.
On the first day of the eagerly anticipated placement we endured a teeth rattling drive down dusty dirt tracks to meet the people of Damba, the first village we would be working alongside. We were greeted warmly by the village head man. The group then divided into two, one with Dan and one with Mphatso, who work for partner organisation SWAM (Society of Women Against AIDS in Malawi). After a brief tour of the village, each group conducted research into village politics, economics and cultural practices to enhance our understanding and begin to build rapports.
During the last few weeks we have been engaging with the local community through advocacy and support group sessions. At these various support groups we have been talking to people about HIV prevention and how to live positively with HIV.
One of the first groups we spoke at was an organisation named Kurya Ndiko Uku which literally translates into “this is the way to eat”. Kurya Ndiko Uku work very closely with the children in the community so when they invited us to speak to the young people they work with we jumped at the chance!
During the first couple of weeks here we have been doing a lot of networking and establishing relationships with the local community. We have also been putting our Chitumbuka (the language spoken in Mzimba) into practice: when we walk through the town the local people shout Monile! (Hello) and how are you? and we proudly reply back to them in Chitumbuka.
We arrived in Lilongwe the capital of Malawi on the 3rd of April. As we drove from the airport to our accommodation we saw local men and women walking along the roadside: there were no separate pavements, only roads. The Malawian women looked beautifully poised as they skilfully balanced heavy baskets on their heads - some of them were even able to ride bicycles simultaneously!
Departure and arrival
After all our preparations and anticipations, it was great to see some familiar faces – and some new ones – at the airport. Everyone is mixed with feelings of apprehension and excitement at what’s coming and it’s great to feel the kinetic energy hovering around us.