Report from DI’s in Malawi.

Pablo and Egle are following the 24-months programme and have just returned from Malawi. Here is a (gently shortened) report from their experiences during their 8 months in Malawi.

First impressions

We had a good first impression and first contact with the students, which we saw they were really enthusiastic with the idea of having two new core group teachers from Europe. Nevertheless the starts are always difficult, and finding a place in a new place it can be a big challenge.

After observations for two weeks, and also to be honest, some frustration for not finding ourselves useful, we started to work, and we attached to a learning area each of us: Education Foundation Studies and Sciences and Technology, with Mr. Soko and Mr. Chipeta respectively. We were assisting to the lessons and trying to assist the lecturer and the students. Though we were still trying to find our place, was a good experience also to explore different possibilities by 3 ourselves in which areas we could be more useful and how to move forward.

But not all work at the school can be just writing and reading, and the students need time for other activities like cultural evenings. We organized a couple of those, and it was always a challenge but with a great result. The first and main one was to present ourselves, but in a different way. The topic of the evening was “Getting to know each other” in which we planned different games and activities for them to know us better – and also for us to know more about them. Our main game was “Who is who?”, supported by a power point presentation where they had to guess about different facts to who of us was regarding.

The Cinema Club

Another of the evening activities, because at DNS students must be always busy, was the Cinema Club on Mondays.
Cinema is not just entertainment but is art and culture, and therefore is a source of knowledge and it’s the perfect way to explore different topics and reflect about the world around us. Therefore, we had different topics and we always discussed before and after the movie and encourage the students to write about it. Some of the movies and topics are those: Eddy the Eagle – Persistence and commitment, The boy who harnessed the wind – Climate Change in Malawi and importance of education, He named me Malala – Human rights activism and girls right for education the interest and participation was really big, being a voluntary activity, and for this reason we ended with an essay contest about the movies we have been watching on Mondays, open for student teachers and tailoring and design. The participation was not so big in this case but was very inspiring to read how much some of these movies have inspired these youngsters.

In the list of events, we have also to highlight the celebration of the International Women’s Day, in which we discussed and learnt more about this day and also we had a very interesting debate about women’s rights and gender equality.

And following our support for women rights, we continue with women and with our Netball Team at DAPP. At DNS Dowa everybody was at that time extremely proud of the team of girls that brought us all to the final of the Dowa District Tournament in March. This team has been playing netball since they started their program to become teacher at DNS. Nevertheless, they have never played before in a professional way like in this tournament, what was really exiting for all of them and for our college.

The Environmental Youth Club

This is probably one of the biggest tasks we have dedicated our time here: The Environmental Youth Club. We started in March, after one month here and different discussions about the possibilities we had here. We visited the Youth Center; we investigate more about it and spoke with the people responsible, before we started the project, small at the beginning but big and successful at the end.

There, hundreds of organizations and thousands of people fighting every day for a better future, and therefore there is a rich ecosystem of ideas and projects but the struggles they face to move forward and to achieve their goals are many. During this time, together with our colleagues from the pre-school project we followed and partnered with these and other projects:
– Green Uhuru: Environmental Friendly Community
– E-waste Entrepreneurship
– Dzaleka Boxing Club
– APOFU

 

The International Children day

The International Children day happened the 1st of June, and because we believe the children here deserve a better future, and the accomplishment of children rights is still far. We decided to celebrate this day inviting children from one of the schools in Dzaleka, and also children from Malawi living close to DAPP. For this day we organized a Treasure Hunt, a kind of gymkhana in which the children will healthy compete and play at the same time they use the brain and they learn more about children’s rights and about the world around us. That means physical and mental activities we prepared all around DAPP campus for the kids to find using a treasure map and guided always by the different facilitators who were collaborating. The day was a complete success with more than 40 kids and 10 volunteers. The best of all was the mood of the people and the joy of the children that from now on will not forget all they have learnt and enjoyed. The day was finished by the recycled medals ceremony for all the teams and a small refreshment to charge the batteries again.

CONCLUSION AND ADVICE FOR THE NEXT DI’s

At the end, eight months was a long time, but it passed faster than we have ever imagined. Eight months of teaching, but also learning. Eight months of adapting ourselves to a new country, but also sharing our culture and traditions. Eight months of challenges, but mainly of achievements and good memories. As it is in our character we are not people who likes to complain, even here we could write a long list of things, we prefer to look at it as opportunities and ideas for the future and for the next DI’s whom will replace us here and at some of the other DAPP projects. With that purpose we want to present that as a Decalogue for the good communication and productivity for new DI’s:

1. Be patient, but don’t wait for others to tell you what to do.
2. Be flexible and open to work in all the fields.
3. Be persistent and don’t give up.
4. Ask, make research, investigate the root of the problems and find solutions. Be a problem solver!
5. Be creative, innovative and think outside of the box.
6. Mark your goals, and committee yourself until you achieve them.

This is not a positive mind list – or we don’t want it to be, but it is important because of the importance and seriousness of the situation to have very clear which is our mission here. When we arrived, we can say we were lost, frustrated and sometimes angry, but with time we understood that we were also free to decide and free to act according to our position and the needs of the working place and the surrounding communities. In order to do that, it’s necessary to follow the points we enumerated, and the most important is don’t be silent. Respect and be discreet but don’t accept a no for an answer and always try to ask and to know more.

The time is also very limited here, and it takes time to land and understand. Don’t rush and make the things step by step, with ambitious but realistic goals. And finally, you must understand you are in a different country, a different continent and a different culture. We cannot impose our points of view. We need to understand the reality and respect it, and of course, everybody needs time to do that.
Leave your prejudices apart and be open to learn and not only to change the place you are, but to change yourself.

INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

TOGETHER WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Lindersvold is an international learning center that facilitates courses in community development and certification in non-traditional pedagogy. Our Center provides an opportunity to learn about the big issues of our time while preparing to assist community-driven projects in Zambia, Malawi or Mozambique. We believe in combining hands-on training with theoretical knowledge, alongside community living, gives students the best foundation for working with sustainable development and vulnerable youth.

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