When people travel, they sometimes have a preconceived notion on what to expect. At other times they go through a period of culture shock. But when you take the time to actually make your traveling worth something, one that you can remember many years down the road, and how much you learned and grew as an individual, that is an extremely priceless thing to have. Joua, one of our Story Time volunteers shares her first hand experience of when she first went to Malawi:
"The young women had a sense of comfort"
They didn't have to worry about not being able to attend school or doing homework. Their eyes lit up with hope and happiness.
Three years ago, when I first met Aaron, if he had told me that I would be on the other side of the world working with him on such a powerful initiative, I don’t think I would have believed it. After planning, fundraising, and envisioning myself here in Malawi for the past year, it feels surreal that I am finally here. I am working with the Malawian team and coming face to face with the students that I’ve been working so hard to fundraise for. What an awesome and enlightening experience!
On January 7th, I made my first trip to Nsondole. I came here with the intention of surveying and interviewing the girls at Nsondole Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) on the progress of the Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP), through which we provide pads for female students. I wanted to find out whether or not these girls found the WEP to be helpful; what changes they wanted to see happen to the program and how it actually impacted them. Their voices needed to be heard so that we could see what improvements we needed to be made for the program.
We bought the pads and gave them out to the girls. While everyone seemed very shy and quiet, I could see that this group of girls were excited for this delivery. The girls had very warm smiles and their eyes seem to light up. During the interviews, the girls told me that for many of them, the pads provided by WEP gave them a sense of solidarity and empowerment. The pads are a tool for them to be able to access education at the same level and regularity as the boys, and a tool which allows them to control the way they present themselves during their menstrual cycles. This is huge for girls who otherwise had no means of accessing pads due to the cost. They had a sense of comfort so they will be able to go to school and concentrate on their school work, with no worries.
I have learned a lot from my many interactions with the people of the community. This is undeniably one of my greatest and most impactful opportunities that I have been afforded to experience. I’ve made so many friends and connections during my time here. The students and their families really welcomed me into their community and exposed me to their culture. I now have a much deeper appreciation for Malawi and its wide range of diversity, both in the cities and in the villages. There is so much out there to learn and opportunities like this strengthen my awareness and help prepare me to be a global citizen that is making a positive impact on the world.
If experiences like Joua’s inspire you, learn more about our Women’s Empowerment Project by clicking the button below.
To receive information on upcoming local events you can participate in and opportunities for traveling to Malawi with us, fill out the form below.