I could only imagine what life would be like working as a volunteer. I was not puzzled with the word volunteer, but before ICS I didn’t know much about volunteering because I was only a business man with a shop and with knowledge of my community. Although I was inexperienced, I was keen to do the work and to focus on my personal development.

First week: Adaptation week

New things are always difficult to adapt to. It was the same with me, it was not easy to consume knowledge of the local organisation that I am volunteering with, YONECO (Youth Net and Counseling), into my cerebrum. It was an amazing week of my journey as an ICS volunteer because we were introduced to the code of YONECO and some healthy tips from our lovely organisation. Since a business man is always a busy man, I had to introduce my shop to my fellow volunteers, so that they could buy some soft drinks at my shop, since charity starts at home. It was a busy week since everyone was busy adapting to the environment. However, for our Team Leaders, they had twice the amount of work as they had to produce the team plan. 

It was an interesting week because words like pardon, sorry, say it again, etc, were continuously used because of the communication barriers. Whilst speaking English, some were speaking in English time and others were speaking in Malawian time, hence the communication was difficult, but since it was ‘adaptation’ week we managed to overcome it. We created a group name called Team Umoza, which means ‘unity’ in Tonga. I enjoyed this week as the whole team showed a hard-working spirit to working towards our goals.

Second week: Let’s do it week

After last week’s introduction to YONECO’s beliefs and culture, this week was much busier. I realised that buses were outside to take us to the field for our first session. Oh, I was excited! “Team Umoza! Let’s do it!”, one of the Team Leaders shouted. They were words of encouragement, which meant my self-esteem was extremely boosted. The team worked well this day and the rest of the days of the week. I felt at home with Team Umoza because the members of the team were helping me all the time. If I had only asked for a definition, they would even be explaining the importance of the idea. It really is Team Umoza (unity). I enjoyed the session because it was the first day to show my talent and skills. Having reached Friday of the week, I started to understand who an ICS volunteer is and what Progressio wants from me as a volunteer, ‘mmmmmmh simple’, learn, teach, accept other people’s views and ideas then join power as a group and impart the learnt knowledge to the target group. That’s how I move this week.

Third week: Togetherness week

Indeed, life is full of ups and down, as the week started we thought life would be simple and easy the way the first week was, but ‘mmh’, we thought wrongly. Little did we know that while on our trip to Mfyavya village, one of our buses got stuck in the sand and we had to push it out of the sand together. As a result, both the parenting and peer sessions had to be rescheduled. I wanted to forget this week, however we just have to learn from our mistakes, accept and move on. There were some great live sessions with active English students, which is important. 

Fourth week: One goal

I enjoyed this week because everyone was alert and ready to work to develop personally and help each other in achieving our role targets. This is important since we are approaching our mid-phase review. I had to move up and down searching for the best and clearest information to teach the school and community, and we also had to work tirelessly as a team to reach our goals and targets.

In our first month, I have gathered all the needed information of an ICS volunteer. An ICS volunteer can be defined as:

  • someone who works for the good of others
  • someone who trusts in team work and respects the group dynamic
  • someone who is always willing to learn from others

Progressio has shown me the true way to develop and change my life and environment. I have already seen the true development, which is in my learning. My life has really been transformed from a simple business man to someone who gives out important information to the people who need it, with the aim of changing the world for our own good.

Written by ICS volunteer Bedium Chirwa