Life is about making the right decisions and choosing the right path. I have always fancied living in the city and getting all the things I have always dreamed of since my childhood days. However, with time I have realized that there is more to life than just being born and raised in the city. When you grow up, what matters is the change you make in your society and the smiles you bring to other peoples’ lives.
I moved from Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi where one finds every good thing they would want in life, and decided to live in Neno, the most remote area in Malawi. I work for Partners In Health on a year-long Global Health Corps fellowship program. Having to leave my soccer life and ignore all the fame, my job with the government,and the comfortable life I lived in the city was not simple. I had to make a huge sacrifice and big compromise. Most people do not understand why I took this path and made such a decision.
Life in Neno is so hard. The biggest challenge about the place is the worst hilly and bumpy road connecting Neno to the main tarmac road as you go to Mwanza boarder or Blantyre. There is no bridge in one of the roads to Neno such that a vehicle literally passes through Lisungwi River. Due to the bad road, there is only one bus that goes to Neno, making the place very hard to reach. This limits access to essential goods and services. There are no big shops where one can find all the necessary goods and items, such that people travel to Blantyre to buy food stuffs. Moreover, there is no running water, which is provided elsewhere by the Malawi water board, such that people depend on untreated water from the borehole. There are only two banks, no filling station, and only one mobile phone operator.
I came to Neno to be part of the PIH family that brings change and provides hope to the people and to show that someone out there cares. The people in Neno do not understand why I left everything in the capital city and came to volunteer here. Being here for three months has given me so many lessons. Life is not as obvious as we see it in town. People struggle to get the basic items in life. The most unfortunate thing is that people do not even have hope that things will change.
Being here is a big sacrifice. However, seeing how happy people are with my presence in this area and the hope and joy I bring to their lives makes me believe I am in the right place. My goal is to help PIH in its supply chain management of drugs and other medical supplies and making sure that people here have good access to these drugs and medical supplies. In the end, people are proud I am part of their community. I play soccer with them and socialize in different ways and I am proud to be here where I have learned to appreciate life more than before.
There is only one reason why I came here, one reason why I abandoned all the fame, soccer life, city life and my job in the city. If we are to abandon these remote areas because of the conditions they face, then who will bring hope to these people? Who will bring the most needed change these places lack? There is a need for popular people in society to take a lead in reaching out to these people. We always expect other people to make these sacrifices. What if there is no one else who cares? What if I am the only one available to bring change and hope to the people? It feels good to see the change I am making in people’s lives; the joy and hope I bring every day I interact with them. If most people shun this place, the question that keeps me going is: Who else if it’s not me will provide the change and bring hope to these people?