Volunteers’ Stories: Patrick
“For anyone thinking about volunteering for RIPPLE Africa, do not think twice. As long as you have initiative and energy and are a positive person, you will have no regrets. … Thank you RIPPLE Africa for allowing me to have such an amazing opportunity I will cherish forever.”
Writing about my 9 months in Malawi is pretty difficult, summing up my feelings about my time, the people I met, the adventures I had, whilst trying to do it justice.
Having never been to Africa or away from home for such a long period of time, I was nervous to say the least. I graduated from University in 2008, with a degree in English Language, and knew from previous experience that I wanted to have the opportunity to travel overseas and teach. I can’t honestly say what initially motivated me to go, but soon after arriving at Mwaya Beach my expectations, goals and motivations became apparent.
Over the 9 months I volunteered in Malawi, I worked in several different areas in the community, focusing on different areas of education. I primarily focused on teaching English at the local secondary school (Kapanda CDSS), working alongside the headteacher teaching grammar, comprehension and composition writing. I also put aside one morning a week to teach at the primary school, where I helped teach composition/creative writing for the older primary school children in Standard 8 to help in their preparation for their exams. Standing in front of 120 children absolutely petrified me at first. But, without even realising it, I soon found myself teaching and became part of the whole classroom environment. With few resources and materials and the number of children in the class, I was overwhelmed by the amazing work the teachers were doing. I was welcomed and supported by the teachers, some of whom became close friends of mine throughout my time in Malawi. There were, of course, difficult days where you would question what you were achieving and how much the children were gaining, but living in the community you are surrounded by so many positive and inspiring people who would always pull you through the hard times. Staying positive and believing in what you’re doing and ultimately believing in the children’s potential I found very important.
Patrick loved his experience with RIPPLE Africa
Patrick was always smiling and threw himself into lots of projects
I tried to regularly attend the pre-schools as much as I could, supporting the newly appointed pre-school coordinator, Jimmy, although the bike riding to some of them proved challenging at times… With tutoring students, Under 5s clinics, Reading Club, Environmental Club and Debate Club, I found myself pretty busy throughout the week, but always managed to find some time for a glass of banana wine at the end of the day!
Another project which I loved throughout my time in Malawi was a Community English class which myself and another volunteer, Rachael, set up in the village of Mazembe. Going to these classes really was the highlight of my week, seeing how much the community wanted to learn English and the positive examples they were setting for their children was encouraging for the future. This involved teaching basic communicative English classes, basic greetings, vocabulary, verbs, time and, of course, many songs and games. I will never forget the women of Mazembe with their babies on their backs singing the Hokey Kokey! It was a tremendous success, and the community loved it just as much as we did.
As well as working with the different projects at Mwaya, I took time to get to know and make beautiful friendships with people in the community. Supporting the children at their local football matches, going for dinner at Ruben’s restaurant, or joining Mr Longwe and Japhet for a cup of tea and putting the world to rights, all helped make me feel a small part of the community.
Working alongside the staff at Mwaya Beach — to name a few, Morton, Joey, Harry, Martha, Geddess, and all the staff who looked after the volunteers — was an absolute pleasure. To be greeted everyday by so many smiles and to be woken up by Martha and Geddess’s laughter is something I will forever miss. The bonds that you form with the volunteers through the experiences you have are incredible, and friendships are made that you know you will keep for life.
There were frustrations along the way, but they do not compare to the amazing and special memories that I took away with me. For anyone thinking about volunteering for RIPPLE Africa, do not think twice. As long as you have initiative and energy and are a positive person, you will have no regrets. Mwaya Beach is a small paradise surrounded by beautiful people, love, and an energy and drive to develop a rural community. I took away with me more than I could ever have hoped for and will carry my experience with me for the rest of my life. Thank you RIPPLE Africa for allowing me to have such an amazing opportunity I will cherish forever.
Patrick (Volunteer Teaching Assistant, September 2008 – June 2009)