Kate, Malawi

Kate volunteered in Malawi, teaching children in a school for the deaf. Her experience there "100% influenced my decision to become a nurse".

 

When choosing what country to volunteer in, I didn’t even second guess Malawi when I saw it was an option. It is in Africa! How many people have actually experienced Africa I thought to myself? I knew Malawi was a developing country therefore it fit with my ambition to help those in need. I wasn’t so interested in countries similar to New Zealand, like Canada and England. I wanted something that would really challenge me, giving me a whole new outlook by living and being a part of a new culture, where life is just so different, while helping those less fortunate than me. Malawi was the one and only option for me.

I was placed at Mountain View school for the Deaf Children, located in the south of Malawi two hours from Blantyre. The school was primary education with students aged 4-22. Mountain View is very remote and is 6km away from Bvumbwe where the local market and supplies are. All the kids and teachers had their homes within the boundaries. Mountain View has a wonderful community with generous people and incredible views including the night sky. My placement was a very special place as these kids are deaf so it gave them their own safe haven where they can be accepted and everyone understands their sign language.


 

I was a standard 4 maths and English teacher, teaching the full curriculum in sign language (which I learnt whilst there)and filling in where ever needed. School days ran from 8am till 3pm and I would often find myself teaching for the whole day. I was also a mentor for the students after school if they needed advice, guidance or help with school work. On teacher-only days we were also required to monitor the students because this is a boarding school. On Sundays we accompanied the children to church. Myself and my partner painted and created a library for the children with books coming from England and New Zealand and we even manged to get a computer in the library. We also got involved in all sorts of community work after hours.

My favourite aspect of my time in Malawi was becoming part of a new family and immersing myself their culture. The kids became my children and the teachers became my siblings. We formed incredible relationships, and every single one of them have a special place in my life. I could not of asked for anything better.

 

Living in Malawi gave me real opportunites to learn. What I mean is I could make real mistakes in real life situations and learn from them, and it even allowed me to realize hidden talents and discover the type of environments where l was successful and what needed improving. These are all things that can only happen when you are immersed in a real life situation. I feel like this type of personal development is really positive.

I am currently in my 1st year of a three year nursing degree in Christchurch, and volunteering in Malawi 100% influenced my decision to become a nurse. When I left high school I didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted to do or what I would be good at. After volunteering I was certain with what I wanted to do and now I’m doing it. Being so certain in life is up there with one of the best feelings.