Sunday, 30 October 2016

My Commitment towards Enhancement of Young People's Lives in Nkhata Bay: An Account of an ICS-Progressio Volunteer

Written by Anthony Kannanda Phiri

One of the sessions which ICS-Progressio Volunteers had
with Secondary School students in Nkhata Bay district 
“Hello guys, listen, we are ICS volunteers who work with YONECO to among other things, promote the Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and welfare of young people here in Nkhata Bay district” – said one of my fellow ICS Progressio volunteers.

The ambiance was filled with noise that was being made by students during our first secondary school session in the Nkhata Bay district. As I was waiting for a time to commence activities as an ICV (In Country Volunteer), my head was so filled up with thoughts, uncertainties and expectations on how I will perform. It is really true that what was hard to bear is sweet to remember.

Young people in Malawi face a number of challenges and these challenges are also very prevalent in the communities where we are working in. Young people are constantly challenged by various SRHR issues like unwanted teen pregnancies, high prevalence rate of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) among others. Further to this, young people easily succumb to negative pressure and indulge in binge drinking as well as abusing drugs and substances. This is a pitiful situation as the youth are leaders of today and tomorrow hence the need to provide them with necessary life skills to enable them to avoid such things.

The first day of work justified the need to intensify various SRHR sessions with young people.  Furthermore, the situation warrants the need to concentrate our efforts and the need to cooperate with students in primary and secondary schools as well as establishing strong linkages with other community members.

There is indeed a lot of work to do and all the team members need to maintain the momentum and approach the tasks enthusiastically in order to successfully complete the mission at hand.

An SRHR Session with Young people in progress 
I realized that life becomes so satisfactory when one contributes positively to various aspects of life and I am glad that as a volunteer, I am learning a lot as well as supporting the development of young people. Of course, I faced a lot of challenges at the beginning but now I feel confident and happy to be an ICS volunteer. Many people, more especially those who live in urban areas, think that life is simple but the case is not as such to those who live rural areas. In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. Life necessitates the need to learn and have and hunger for more knowledge.

As volunteers, we are trying our best to support the process of addressing various challenges and inequalities among people at different levels. We are associating very well with local communities and this is an important aspect of our work.

People who delay action until all factors are favorable do nothing. I am ready to reach out to hard to reach areas and work with as many youths as possible. I have also realized that in the efforts of trying to change others am also in the process of changing my life as well and sometimes this even happens at subconscious level.

Frankly speaking, I am enjoying the team work and a good working relationship we have established with our friends from UK  (UK based Progressio-ICS Volunteers). Man alone has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; Man alone can dream and make his dreams come true. It`s my dream to change the world, and it`s my dream that by the end of my placement, young people’s situation should not be the same.                                                                                                                                                             


The Beauty of Language

Written By: Lewis Scholfield  ICS- Progression Volunteer) 

After an English learning session with young people in Nkhata
 Bay district
Living in England has given me an opportunity  to hear a variety of languages. To some people this causes frustration; as they find it disrespectful or feel like people are hiding things from them. As for me, I find language fascinating due to the use of slang and accents which stand out in crowds regardless of how densely populated an area is. As I arrived in Malawi, it became very confusing and difficult to communicate when trying to engage with ICV’s (in country volunteers) and people from the local town. However, after spending a few nights with our host family, Jamie and I found ourselves on the other side of this language barrier.

ICS-Progressio Volunteers from England having a wonderful
time with children outside YONECO Office in Nkhata Bay
We spent our evenings in the host home; it had become almost a ritual that Jamie and I catch up on our daily events and thoughts after a meal. We’d be sat looking out over the tropical bay and within minutes of the conversation starting, two brothers from the family would come and sit close by us. Both boys are aged 13 and have a very basic knowledge of the English language, so by the third night we began to question their reasoning as it seemed they did not have any. 

We started by asking the boys if they understood what we were saying. The only response was a look of confusion. We tried again using hand gestures and slowly and clearly asked “Do you understand us?” The boys shook their heads. We continued with this method and asked “Would you like us to teach you English?” Both boys sprung up with excitement and responded “Yes, yes, yes!” I was shocked by the passion and enthusiasm these boys had, usually the adolescents back home would be reclusive and theirs motivation withdrawn. Whereas the optimism and positive attitudes made me feel like these boys may be fluent by the evenings end.

Two hours flew by, we used a notebook to write out the alphabet and a dim torch was the only source of light after a familiar blackout. Although the resources where basic, the boys positive outlooks remained. We spent the first hour learning the alphabet and each letter’s pronunciation. We continued the lesson finding words starting with corresponding letters. An example of this would be, A for apple. I remembered this teaching style from school, when I would have been in a similar situation to the children I found myself teaching. It seemed effective as the boys quickly started taking over the examples. To ensure both myself and the child understood the references; we would draw a picture underneath each example.

After spending a few days without any understanding of each other, the four of us found ourselves laughing and talking together. We would reinforce the boys with clapping or by saying “Good”, we’d correct mistakes and then demonstrate why it was a mistake. Overall this made our relationships stronger and the boy’s grandparents thanked us with such gratitude.

 This felt unnecessary as we were living in a room they had provided, we ate meals that they’d cook and provided us with the means and explanations to carry out simple tasks like washing our clothes. It felt great to be doing something that benefited somebody else. 

We have come to Malawi to make a difference, and after some weeks of planning and learning, this was our first real interaction.