quarta-feira, 3 de setembro de 2014

A minha experieência no Malawi, contada na página da minha universidae

Learning from Malawian Kids: In the Field
In Scotland, I was always a very active citizen, so last November, I applied to the International Citizen Service program funded by the DFID and after an interview in London, I was accepted with the charity Progressio to be part of the ICS family as a volunteer. I wanted to challenge myself and gain experience in international development; I wanted to know other cultures – where I could make a positive contribution and learn from them. Therefore, last March I travelled out to Mzuzu, in Malawi and worked with UNGWERU, a Malawian NGO who brings light to the local communities since 2004.
On my way to Mzuzu, northern of Malawi, I really took the whole scenery which allowed me to make up my own mind about Malawi and a few words spring to mind: warm, beautiful, green, blue sky; no wonder why they call it the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’. Since I arrived here I have been able to immerse myself within the Malawian culture, knowing the simple ‘day to day life’ of Malawians and how they would compose themselves. That was a necessity, ensuring the fact that I would properly communicate with the in country volunteers as well as the community. I tried to do my best to greet them in Chitumbuka (northern region language) everyday and make sure I was integrated in the communities. That in itself has been a great experience: from being in the market; talking to people living with HIV; and visiting my new found friends. Malawians are friendly people and through my journey I met inspiring people that are making this experience a success case: personal and professionally. Of course there were also some challenges such were: blackouts every 2 weeks; no washing machines, no mayonnaise or all those not necessary things we are used to have in Europe. But just here I realise how lucky we are and I felt blessed to have had the opportunity to have education.
The reality in Malawi is hard, especially if you are a girl. At Progressio’s partner organisation, Ungweru, we have done a lot of different things such were: supporting HIV people every Friday: having lunch together, dancing, training them in home based care, nutrition, animal welfare, stigma and discrimination; we delivered school sessions in HIV, self esteem and confidence, family relationships reaching more than 600 kids; working with communities we trained them in committee member roles and responsibilities, compost manure, and we helped one community making clay cook stoves and promoting them to show them through an example why carbon footprint is so important.
At a personal level, been with the kids is one of my favourite memories because I realise there are no barriers to be happy. Does not matter the colour of the skin, if you do not know the language, if you are rich or poor, your age, if you have a masters or if they did not start primary school yet, but been with those kids gave me hope to believe there is a lot of work to be done in Malawi and I will do my best to integrate my skills in Malawi’s culture. They taught me to not give up so easily.
In general, I found ICS to be a great programme that went beyond my expectations on many levels. It contributed to my personal growth at a professional level. It gave me the chance to experience life in Malawi, and gave me the opportunity to find a job that has been contributing to my career development. ICS has impacted my future directly so I would encourage anyone between 18-25 years of age to consider taking up this opportunity and apply for to be an ICS volunteer: Challenge Yourself to Change Your World’.
Andreia Fausto
University of Glasgow
Veterinary Public Health

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