Markus, Malawi

 

Name: Markus
Nationality: New Zealander
Placement Country: Malawi
Role: Teacher

 

I chose to volunteer in Malawi with Lattitude Global Volunteering because I wanted a new experience and thought it would be a good opportunity for learning and growth. I see it as a symbiotic relationship, where you offer your help while at the same time learning and experiencing so much for yourself. Although being one of the poorest countries in the world, Malawi is famous for the warm-heartedness and friendliness of its people. They have so, so little, and so I was interested to see how they nurture these positive ways of existence.

 

We are placed 45 minutes down a dusty and bumpy dirt road in the rural village of Chimbowe, Central Malawi. It is a really nice community, with a primary and secondary school, as well a small local shop and a maize mill. There are 4 Lattitude volunteers in the village. The two girls teach at the primary school and myself and my volunteer partner Jack teach at the secondary school.

 

The average week day consists of teaching classes between the hours of 7:30am-2pm. Other duties that we do are cooking over a charcoal burner, going to the borehole to draw water and walking to the weekly local market. A lot of time is filled with hanging out and chatting with friends and people in the village.

 

 

Before coming to Malawi, I thought it could be a good thing to implement a composting toilet system to introduce a more sustainable alternative to their current toilets here. After settling into my placement, I began to get in touch with people in Malawi practicing permaculture and sustainable living, to get ideas for the best system to build for a school, using local resources. After finding out rough costs for the resources and cost of labour for builders, I set up a givealittle fundraiser page. I shared it on Facebook and thanks to all my generous friends the amount needed was raised in less than a week! Chimbowe Secondary School held an opening ceremony for them and now they are up and running. It's really nice to already see the positive impact of them. The students are all very curious and are learning about this alternative system through actually getting to use one.

 

With Malawi being a very underdeveloped country, there are obviously many differences to home. I found the best way to cope with these differences was to remove all my past conditioning and perspectives you get from living in a developed society, and to just observe everything with an open, non-judgmental mind. I found it best just to integrate and immerse myself into local life as much as possible. Cooking and eating nsima with friends. Going to the borehole and chatting. Washing clothes with students. Buying food at a market. There's so much friendliness in the people here, you make many good connections.

 

 

 

Being immersed in such a different culture brings many chances for personal development. I feel like by being put in such a different environment, culture and way of life has increased my ability to adapt to my surrounding environment, no matter what it is. We take many things for granted in NZ, and coming here will really change your perspective on things. Volunteering in a local village is a great way to see and experience Malawian culture and people first hand.