Volunteers’ Stories: Joan

Joan’s Story

“I loved the friendliness of local people and getting to know a number of them, as well as the extremely kind and helpful staff here. All in all, if you’re thinking of volunteering – just go for it!”

I loved my volunteering experience! As a retired English teacher, my obvious destination was Kapanda, and I spent my 11 weeks there, enjoying the company of my good-natured Malawian colleagues, and finding the students delightful. I’d read the books on the syllabus for Form 4, and fortuitously the Literature specialist had just transferred to another school, so I slotted in there. I worked with Form 3 and 4 on Literature, and a little language work with Form 2, as well as two sessions a week of Lifeskills, the Malawian Personal and Social Education programme. It was really interesting to tackle ‘Smouldering Charcoal’, a Marxist novel about the Kamuzu Banda regime, and a range of African short stories, as well as the more familiar territory of Romeo and Juliet (lots of relevance for Malawi – early marriage, parental pressure and so on). Down at Mwaya, I also did three afternoon sessions a week of Extra English for the super-keen, and a little very basic computer instruction.

Life down at Mwaya was comfortable and fun – as well as really beautiful. Lovely company (varying from six of us to one mealtime with 19), great food, some fun outings, Sunday morning cooked breakfast (only when Geoff was here), Liz’s 60th birthday party – all very welcoming and hospitable. I was quite focused on the school and grew very fond of the students, but it was also good to get more of a sense of the scope and extent of RIPPLE’s work here, improving the local community and the environment. I found the cycle to school quite hard work (though the downhill ride back was good!), and loved the friendliness of local people and getting to know a number of them, as well as the extremely kind and helpful staff here. All in all, if you’re thinking of volunteering – just go for it!

Joan (Volunteer Teacher, September – November 2012)

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