Malawi changed my life
Carla worked as a volunteer in Malawi in southern Africa. She spent six months working with DAPP Malawi which is a local NGO under the Humana People to People umbrella. DAPP Malawi has run projects for four decades.
As a volunteer, Carla worked at a a teacher training college called DNS Chilangoma in the Blantyre area in southern Malawi – an experience that changed her life.
Teachers change the world
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. More than one million children have no access to education. Most people don’t really know that education is a human right that everybody should have access to. However, before they can even start to consider going to school, poor people have to have their basic human needs covered, such as better access to water, food or shelter.
Generally, many people consider the profession of a teacher as a very important one. Everyone understands that through education you can develop yourself and get a better life. A student who gets the chance to go to school in Malawi listens very carefully to what the teacher has to say. So, every teacher in Malawi has a very big responsibility in what they teach to the children.
Educating Another Kind of Teachers
I got the chance to work for eight months in Malawi as an educator. More specifically, I worked as a Teacher of Teachers. DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) gave me the opportunity to be part of running a great programme that will turn teachers-to-be into Another Kind of Teachers.
During my time at the teacher training college, I had the chance to participate in some of the modules of this non-traditional teacher training education, such as family visits. Students and teachers went to live for a couple of days with a family in an ordinary village. We also had the task of helping them in some way to improve their lives: for example to dig a rubbish pit, improve the latrine or construct a firewood saving stove.
Getting out of your comfort zone
Another module was to undertake field studies or an “investigation” over five days in a very poor area. Access to water was one of the most difficult problems in this area. We talked to people, heard their problems and tried to find solutions together. During the bus travel module, I experienced the best and the most difficult experience at the same time. Over a duration of three months, we travelled through the whole country. We visited different areas, getting to know people and getting close to them. That sounds super nice, right?
So, the difficult part came because we were used to have all the basic commodities needed, at the school. This ease of having access to luxuries like running water was over as soon as we started our bus travel. You don’t really realise how privileged you are when you have grown up in developed country, for example being able to open a tap and get water from it, or knowing when you are going to eat next time, or always having the chance to sleep in a comfortable place.
Why I love Malawi
But you know what? Even considering all the difficulties I went through, because I needed to adjust to a more simple lifestyle, I will always choose to go back there. I never regret the day I decided to volunteer in Malawi.
Why…? Because Malawi, for me, is simplicity. It is waking up at 5 am in the morning without any problem for a person who hates waking up early. It is getting inside a bus not knowing when you are going to arrive at your destiny without any stress. Also, It is learning how to live daily with what you have, without needing anything else. And not to forget all the people who suddenly come into your life and make it easier with their smiles. Malawi is the country that has taken all my heart and has kept it in a very safe place for me to come back.
Since I returned to Europe it has been such a difficult thing for me to explain this experience, which has completely change my life. But, as my teammate always said: “Africa is not something you can explain, it can only be lived”.
By Carla from Asturias
Volunteer in Malawi
Aspects of People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace in training of international volunteers to be useful and respectful allies of marginalised communities.
DAPP Zambia’s Children’s Town project assists in the rehabilitation of former street children and other young people in need of a secure base and vocational training.
As part of their initial training to become useful international volunteers, the team participates in arranging an event, for example, a conference, a concert or a sports event.