Emma’s Volunteer Story
Volunteer teacher Emma has written a story about her time at Mwaya which is reproduced below. Stories written by other previous RIPPLE Africa volunteers can be found on the Volunteers’ Stories webpage.
Teacher Training, Adult Literacy, Single Tasking and Community Spirit
Having previously volunteered in Zambia and Malawi in my summer holidays, I knew just how rewarding it could be. As a primary teacher I wanted to work with teachers for a longer period and during term time, sharing skills and empowering them in any way I could.
My Headteacher in the Netherlands agreed that I could have 10 weeks of unpaid leave and then the planning began. I stumbled across ‘RIPPLE Africa’ and had a strong feeling that this was the right charity for me. On arrival, I realised my instinct was correct and I could instantly see that RIPPLE Africa really was living out its ethos of ‘Offering a hand up not a hand out’.
From the moment I arrived, I felt at home here. The staff, other volunteers and entire community have welcomed me with open arms and I will be sad to leave – 2.5 months doesn’t feel long enough!
I began my placement helping the adult literacy classes with the planning and delivery of lessons, as well as helping to make resources for them such as comprehension question cards to accompany sets of books. I learnt a lot during this period and developed a lovely rapport with the two teachers, Allamson and Burton. Even when the Primary and Pre-schools started back in mid-September, I still regularly popped by to see them both and talk through ideas for their classes.
I also helped conduct a survey to find out the effectiveness of the sweet potato scheme at the pre-schools as well as helped at the tree nursery to bud, graft and water plants there. I was also lucky to spend a day gaining insight into the fisheries project and attended a meeting with chiefs and villagers as well as the RIPPLE fishery team learning more about the amazing work RIPPLE Africa are doing to aid fish conservation.
At Mwaya Pre-school, I have sung alphabet songs, read picture books, used puppets and painted with the children. It has been a huge amount of fun and the teachers there have been nothing but enthusiastic and friendly. I shall miss their smiling faces every day.
At Mwaya Primary, I have been mainly helping Standards 6, 7 and 8 in English lessons – both delivering content and assisting the teachers with marking, resource making and English grammar/vocabulary. I have created interactive displays in the Standard 8 classroom, introduced ‘Hotseating’ (whereby I am in role of a character of a story and the children ask questions) in Standard 7, helped with classroom/behaviour management ideas and aided comprehension skills via different uses of questioning across all year groups.
A highlight was delivering a 2.5 hour training workshops for the Mwaya Primary staff on phonics, critical thinking, questioning, comprehension – including the concept of ‘Book Talk’. I think the staff enjoyed it and many said afterwards they were excited to adopt some of the ideas I demonstrated.
I’ll miss all of the new friends I have made here; the sound of Lake Malawi easing me to sleep; the weather; the sense of community here that we are slowly losing back home; the ability to single task and be more ‘mindful’; watching the monkeys swing from trees as I shower; the delicious daily food cooked by the superb RIPPLE staff but most of all the sheer infectious joy and energy displayed by the children I have worked with.
I’ll be back again some day for sure.
Thank you RIPPLE Africa for a truly life changing experience – it exceeded all of my expectations. You really are making such a difference to so many people. I will continue to be one of your most avid supporters!