“End of Service” is the phrase VSO uses when a volunteer completes their placement.
This is what I’m currently preparing for because I am completing my placement and going home next Sunday! A few months ago, after a long think and chat with family and close friends, I decided to amend my placement duration from 2 years to 18 months. I need to go home for family and professional reasons. The UK private sector recruitment cycle is traditionally buoyant between January to June and very quiet between July to December, due to budget freezes. So it makes sense that I go back now as opposed to October. Unfortunately I cannot extend beyond October because I also have family promises to keep.
So, I’ve been trying to let go of all the things which have been an integral part of my life here in Malawi. From the trivial elements to the critical ones and the very reasons I came here in the first place:-
- The iHRIS project
- Breakfast Club kids
- All the bonds and friendships I’ve made, some of which I will keep on of course.
- All the phones, clothes and other stuff my friends have kindly donated still need to be given away!
On the other hand, I am very looking forward to seeing my family and friends, plus riding my motorbike again! I’ve often said that I do not miss any material thing from my first world life. No flat screen TV, fancy car, gadgets, mod-cons etc. The only exception is my first and only motorbike.
As part of the End of Service pack, VSO have a document called Preparing for Reverse Culture Shock. It describes the 5 pre-departure stages, which I initially laughed at (and actually still do). Some of it does resonate though:-
- Recognition of feelings
- Accept feelings of loss
- Prepare for separation
- Review the experience
- Prepare for reverse culture shock
18 months have really flown by quickly. From not knowing anything about Malawi and Lilongwe to actually being invited to events and not being the newbies. From very slow progress on iHRIS at the beginning (no office!) to having a full project team working full time on it now. From just occasionally handing out the odd sweet and not knowing any of the kids’ names, to feeding and teaching up to 30 kids every week.
Life is like a toilet roll. First bit goes slow, then after half way it just speeds up till the end!
Thanks for the quote Nat! 😉
I know for a fact that I will miss Malawi. I also know that I will be back!