This is the first of many posts to catch up. So much has happened since departure on 20 Oct!
I touched down at Lilongwe International airport on Sunday 21 October 2012 at 14:11:22, Malawi time. Our group of volunteers were picked up by a small team of VSO Malawi staff. To my surprise, an airport staff was collecting the checked-in luggage stickers, which were attached to my boarding pass stub… which I had lost, somewhere between transiting in Nairobi and disembarking in Lilongwe! Another volunteer lost his too but we both sneaked past.
An easy 30 minute drive to our temporary accommodation, the Riverside Hotel in Lilongwe, where we were staying during our week of ICT (In Country Training).
ICT includes all the important stuff like security, finance (living allowance), admin forms, introduction to all VSO Malawi’s various programmes… and more forms(!), last and not least is basic Chichewa classes. The title of this post “Muli bwanji Lilongwe” means “Hello Lilongwe”. Our Chichewa tutor, Arthur, was excellent and I’m mostly getting a good reaction from my limited vocabulary and funny (or azungu) pronunciation, which is promising. In case you were wondering, the HRMIS (Human Resources Management Information System) project I’ll be working on at the Ministry of Health belongs to the Health Programme.
First day at work tomorrow. So getting an early night. Plenty of pictures and catch up posts to come!
Lilongwe International Airport
ICT – Health Programme Overview
ICT – Back to class!
ICT – Class of Oct 2012
It’s been a week since my SKWID Training course (pronounced “squid” but not to be confused with the slang term for a newbie motorbike rider). It stands for Skills for Working In Development. It follows the P2V Training course which I went to in August.
I found SKWID very useful and wish I went on it earlier than I did. It would have given me more time to prepare for my placement (departing on 20th October). Specifically, finishing my course of vaccination against rabies! A massive shout-out to InterHealth. Especially to nurse Linda, a fellow Northern Irelander, who was really helpful on the phone and even agreed to come in early on Monday morning to give me the first jab. The VSO Medical Team was also very helpful. I’d like to say a really big thank you to both. Having exhausted plans A, B, C… I’m now on to plan Z. Jabs 1 and 2 in Hong Kong, followed by jab 3 in Malawi. Not ideal but it’ll have to do.
Also, I would have had more time to complete and submit my Learning Log in order to obtain a Foundation Certificate in International Development from Harper Adams University College, which coincidentally, is very close to my home in Telford. The Learning Log took me a lot longer than expected. Since I’ve not been doing office work since March, I’m very out of practise at formal writing!
That was pretty much my week gone. But I did manage to sneak in a trip to Alton Towers on Friday 🙂 It was planned a few weeks ago for my Irish brother and cousin to come over from Northern Ireland to collect my car. So we wanted to go do something fun too. It was a wee holiday for us all. Together with my twin brother who came up from London, it was great to see them and we had a fantastic day out. Queuing is for losers! We luckily managed to get on Nemesis twice without queuing 😀
Thanks to my bro Mark for this bit of inspiration. A quote from Sir Michael Caine (lege!). It’s from a Whatever It Takes canvas print that’s on my guest bedroom wall, where Mark was sleeping.
“Life is not a rehearsal.”
Here are some pics from SKWID.
Team SKWID. A great bunch of people!
I’ve just come home from my VSO Preparing to Volunteer (P2V) training course in sunny Birmingham. 3 days packed with both academic and practical stuff on getting volunteers ready for living and working in a completely new environment. It was very informative, interesting and intense… and we had a good laugh too! 😀
The best part was definitely meeting my fellow volunteers. All highly inspirational people in their own different ways. Full of enthusiasm and gumption.
A bit of background info… P2V is part of a structured training programme designed by VSO. It uses a “blended” approach i.e. mixes classroom and online based training. I have been working with my course-mates on an online training course called Volunteering Starts Here, which is good, but there’s simply no substitute for meeting face-to-face.
We learnt about the international development context, which I must say, was rather complex! From the effects of colonialism to globalisation, UN’s 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to VSO’s development goals… it was really interesting stuff. We also had advice on some volunteering do’s and dont’s. One exercise called The Trading Game was especially fun. Very well designed to demonstrate the realities and challenges of global trade; The giants of G8 and minnows of the G77, which I had never heard of. There were also more reflective exercises like the Me-Map and discussions about the impact of relationships.
A sincere thank you to my course-mates and our trainers, Marianne and Dolar. It’s been a good weekend!
Oh, there was something jotted down on a flip-chart last thing today, which I really liked. It’s a great title for a book and just sounds great to say: Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway (by Susan Jeffers). I hope that someday I’m able to truly live with this mindset!
Finally, there was one particularly relevant lesson I took away from the weekend: Don’t vent on blog! So you may have noticed that this post was rather nice! 😛
Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO
Tags: Colonialism, G77, G8, Globalisation, International development, MDG, P2V, The Trading Game, Training