Mandlenkosi is from Zimbabwe and is currently working as an Electoral Support Adviser with the Catholic Commission for Justice & Peace (CCJP) in the Diocese of Lilongwe, Malawi.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a positive person and always take the bad things that come my way in my stride and try to use the experience to do better in future. I am also always willing to learn new things, especially concerning my work and my career. I am therefore my biggest critic and I try to evaluate myself all the time.

What is your first memory of arriving in your placement country?

I remember noticing how green Lilongwe is, which is more than I can say for many cities I have been to in Africa. It also struck me as quiet.

What has been the most exciting moment so far?

Monitoring elections on May 19, 2009. I was in Salima district, by the lakeside. We were up at 4am (with a colleague and a driver from CCJP) and worked until 3am the next day. We had a three-hour nap and were visiting our monitors in polling centres again by 6am. I was touched by the sense of civic duty from Malawians. Most of our monitors were volunteers taken from the church and CCJP.

What is the biggest lesson learned so far?

Development work is as much about learning as it is about imparting skills and knowledge. More often than not, we learn far more from the local communities we serve than what we teach them.

What is your favourite motto or saying?

Since I came to Malawi it is “Pangono pangono” a Chichewa expression which translates as “little by little”. It is the little efforts we make that make a difference to the lives of many people.

What do you predict will be a major development issue in 2020?

Climate change. Food security is already a challenge. This will affect other sectors of the economy in many developing countries.