Written by: Callum Campbell
Greetings from the warm heart of Africa! Malawi has rightly so gained the term “the warm heart” for its open and friendly people, and it certainly is warm… I came to here after 6 months in the Lattitude office as the intern. I gained inside knowledge on how a global youth development charity operates. I also gained hands on experience with interviewing and selecting applicants for the various programmes we run as well as getting stuck in with marketing and recruitment.
I have been in Malawi for over three months now and the contrasts with home could not be more apparent: the food, the climate… people smile! My work has changed notably as well, I now split my time between working for Lattitude and Determined to Develop (D2D), a partner charity here in Malawi. For Lattitude I find myself working closely with Ken the country manager assistant where we go on site visits. I often jealously listen to the volunteers’ triumphs in Malawi as Ken offers support and cultural advice where it’s needed. We also meet with placement mentors to gain a holistic view of how the volunteers’ experience is going and the impact they’re having. I also played the part of investigative journalist in the great mystery of the missing mattresses of Ngara! It is nothing short of impressive to see how quickly volunteers pick up Chitumbuka when they are immersed in it; I am often left lamenting my pitiful vernacular. We have a big project on the horizon to better match expectations of volunteers. We will be gathering a handful of Lattitude volunteers and going through the information packs with them to make sure that the information packs mirror their Malawian experience. This will ensure the satisfaction of future volunteers so they can be as best prepared as possible for their time here and therefore get as much from this fantastic opportunity as possible.
The other half of my time is spent working for D2D alongside my co-workers Ponelo, Ellie, and Geoff. The days are diverse; I could be doing anything from crunching numbers on a grant application for computers for the local youth, to out in the field meeting women’s groups offering support on how to run an emerging chicken rearing business. I have also enjoyed developing our small but highly valued deaf club and have found it rewarding seeing it grow (not without its teething problems though). Time moves quickly in the office with the four of us in it, with the four corner stones of: access to education, nutrition, women’s empowerment and environment, and numerous projects in each of those areas we are kept on our toes, but it’s a pace of life that suits me and that I enjoy.
I have the luxury of reminiscing back on 3 months of hard work and visible progress, already garnering a sort of nostalgia and thinking ahead to the next 6 months with grit and guile, ready for the challenges that come my way. It’s a luxury I feel I will have for some time to come. If you are thinking of applying for the Lattitude internship, I can say with certainty that it will be one filled with its own plethora of highs and challenges.
If you’re interested in volunteering in Malawi, please visit our website: www.lattitude.org.nz/where-can-i-go/malawi/