The past three days of teaching the local Community Health Volunteers has been quite an experience! It felt so strange conducting our first round of skill check offs, but so rewarding to see such tangible progress with our students.
Their final practical exam consisted of putting their newly learned knowledge to the task by working with patients in nearby villages. They demonstrated such confidence and ownership of their skills! The picture below is with our first group of Community Health Volunteers upon graduation from our training course.
Though our main focus has been teaching, we have been learning so much more than we ever expected! When visiting patients in the nearby villages, we wore traditional Malawian wrap skirts, called chitenje. The women here make tying these skirts look so easy, but when we tried to do it ourselves it was very hard to get them to stay on!
When in the village, Sam was ready to assist her group of Community Health Volunteers as they did exercises with their patient, but unexpectedly found herself taking part in some daily chores. She learned that the Community Health Volunteers not only travel long distances to see their patients, but also provide assistance to the patient by performing daily chores such as gathering water from the well, cooking meals, sweeping the home, bathing the patient, and all without being paid! These volunteers maintain a regular job and still desire to devote their free time to making home visits to take care of these patients. They are heroes in our eyes!
Our transportation to and from the villages was by van. But this was no ordinary van, and no ordinary driving experience. There were 18 of us that needed to get to the village and only one van to take us there. We were shocked to learn that it is very possible to fit 18 people into one van! There were people sitting on laps, kneeling on the floor, even sitting on the driver’s seat headrest. It was quite a site to see for us, but a normal occurrence for Malawians.
Finally, the thing we have most enjoyed learning is the Malawian song and dance! They start each training session by breaking into song and dance, all in perfect harmony and rhythm. They even brought us out into the center of the circle to learn their dance steps! Even though we were awkward and off beat, the energy and joy in the room made the experience one of the most enjoyable yet. We look forward to learning even more!
With warm hearts,
Samantha, Alycia, and Melody (S.A.M.)