Monday, 23 January 2017

Final Hurrah

"There is no forgiveness when one who claims a superiority falls below the standard"
- Frantz Fanon

"We would be out of our minds, we would actually be traitors to ourselves, to be reluctant or fearful to identify with people with whom we have so much in common"
- El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

            Officially my last entry as a CorpsAfrica volunteer, this post is a collection of some of the major events that unfolded in front of my eyes throughout this surreal journey that took me from Msani village in Nkhata Bay to Likoswe village in Chiradzulu.

            But before I proceed, allow me to take this opportunity to pay my homage to CorpsAfrica for this eye-opening opportunity. One of the many things that my fellow pioneer volunteers and I were promised when we joined is that this journey would change us. As I prepare to conclude my one year stay in Likoswe village, I will be the first to admit that change has really occurred within me. Is it a positive change? That's not for me to answer, but what I know is that I am proud of the change that has happened. My contentment is what matters.

            Now, here is how the CorpsAfrica journey motioned.

Ain't this nice?

            On November 15, 2015, after hours of my customized meditation on the shores of the beautiful Lake Malawi in Mlowe, Nkhata-Bay, I abandoned all the hesitation and made the final decision to accept the offer to volunteer with CorpsAfrica. In spirit, this is the day that my journey began.
Get your legs ready.

            On January 17, 2016, after losing my phone the previous day and standing up to exploitative minibus call boys, I joined up with the entire CorpsAfrica Malawi crew on the foothills of Chongoni mountain in Dedza to begin pre-service training (PST). I took the above picture midway through PST minutes before the crew hiked Chongoni mountain. Obviously, very few made it to the top.

Diffusion of wisdom across generations

            Part of PST involved a practical element that required volunteers to delve into nearby villages and shadow assigned individuals. Intended to give us a realistic feel of what lay ahead of us, this exercise took me to this lady's home where we shared lots of amazing stories together with her two grandchildren who she struggles to provide for.

Watch out for that leakage

            On February 26, 2016, I moved to Likoswe village to begin my one year voluntary service. In order to aid transition and immersion, CorpsAfrica requests villages to assign a host family to a volunteer. In my case, I was assigned Mr. Dave Masautso as my host and the picture above is the house that I shared with him. Need I say that this was a whole new experience on its own?

Two chiefs at work

            Settled in Likoswe village, the first project that I got involved in was the construction of a community nursery school. Funded by Village X, the project involved hauling sand from Sandekwe river, bringing rocks, water, and bricks to the construction site and other manual activities. Despite the lack of involvement from most community residents, especially men, the nursery school structure was completed and handed over to the community on May 23, 2016. Today, apart from serving as a nursery school, the structure also serves as a convenient meeting place for community meetings.
Let's shower gifts and celebrate the FOMO way

            The inaugural CorpsAfrica Malawi crew included two distinguished Moroccans volunteers who were assigned Chole village in Mulanje as their site. On May 30, 2016, I travelled to Chole village to attend a handover ceremony of a structure that was constructed using collaborative effort from CorpsAfrica through the two Moroccan volunteers, the community, and FOMO. Apart from serving as a handover ceremony, this event was also a goodbye ceremony as the completion of the structure marked the imminent return to their mother country for the Moroccans. In the picture above, the two Moroccans, who are a couple, are showered with an assortment of gifts from community members. It was a grand ceremony.

Drinks on drinks. Water is life.

          Talking of visiting my fellow volunteers' sites, I think I did terrible on this aspect. Apart from attending the ceremony in Mulanje, the other volunteer site that I visited is Makanani village in Mwanza - Lusekelo's site. One confession I have to make is that Makanani is one bunch of a hilly territory. Granted that the place has no phone service and villages are located far and between, my visit meant walking more than I used to. But at least I got the opportunity to witness a product of Lusekelo's project - a well.

Failed selfie: Tobiyasi got fans up in the Atlas Mountains

            Apart from making me endure the daily shenanigans in Likoswe village, my service also took me to various places within and outside Malawi. Places like Thunga in Thyolo, Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa, and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Wowed by the exuberance of the CorpsAfrica Senegal crew (these guys can dance), I made it my point to wow kids when we visited communities in the Azzaden valley. The picture above says it all.

Chickens and nkhuku in Likoswe

             You will find more details about these chickens here.

            As you can see, my association with CorpsAfrica has been an adventure. Who wouldn't be changed by an adventure of such magnitude? Definitely, not me. But the most important question is, does this spell the end of Tobiyasi in Chiradzulu? My response is, yes, Tobi is about to leave Chiradzulu but this blog will remain active. But remember that this is my final piece in my capacity as a CorpsAfrica volunteer. What lays ahead are posts written by Limbani Kamanga in his capacity as Tobiyasi Tobi. Yambone!

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