DanChurchAID sends 14 Danish youth volunteers to Malawi

A 14 member team of enthusiastic and energetic Danish Youth Volunteers is now two weeks old in Malawi. The volunteers are all placed in villages in Nsanje, Chikhwawa and Champhira. They have nothing to hide of their mission: they are emissaries for DanChurchAID(DCA), an International Non Governmental Organisation(INGO) working in humanitarianism with its headquarters in Copenhagen.

As part of their introductory course the volunteers got a glimpse of the country’s rich heritage such as the KuNgoni Cultural Centre and the National Heritage site of Chongoni/Chetcherere Rock Paintings.

According to DCA Malawi Office, Cecilie Winter, the Regional Representative highlighted that the presence of these volunteers will benefit both Denmark and Malawi.

She said, “The significance is two folds: for the communities in Malawi hosting the volunteers gives them the feeling that they are not standing alone on the challenges in their communities and also there will be laughter and joy in the villages as the Malawians and the Danes encounter and explore on each other´s differences and similarities.”

Anders (L) has finally been integrated into a Malawian family in Chikhwawa. (photo by Carl Gustav)

As on Denmark’s benefit from the programme, Cecilie hinted that, “ As for the people in Denmark who will meet the volunteers upon their return will have a much better and deeper understanding of challenges in a poor country like Malawi when they hear the witness of the young people. Hopefully it will woo them into supporting the good cause and DCA’s work in Malawi in future”

Appreciating the role of these volunteers in Malawi, Melton Luhanga, Executive Director of Christian Action in Relief and Development (CARD) reiterated with the Regional Representative that the volunteers will play a remarkable role both in Malawi and Denmark.

‘’ These volunteers play a very crucial role in linking Malawi and Denmark. They are ambassadors, seeing the realities of developmental needs on the ground,’’ commented Melton.

It is DCA’s strategy that the volunteers stay, eat and live the Malawian way. No wonder none of them stays in a hotel or lodge, but in mud floored houses surrounded by goat, cattle and chicken kraals.

Upon return, the volunteers will be involved in a Popular Foundation Parish Collection Campaign in March, 2012 to fundraise for the work of DCA in Malawi and elsewhere.

Lameck Nkhoma, CARD’S project officer, in Nsanje sees the presence of these volunteers in the East bank as a great opportunity for further funding to his project area.

‘’The volunteers will bring reality of village life and its developmental challenges to potential donors in Denmark having themselves lived and experienced the tougher living conditions in the villages.’’

A spot check in some areas has found some of them at Jenda Market eating locally oil fried hot potato chips-a sign that they can now forget eating from Mc Donald’s Restaurants and do it the Malawian way.

Others have been spotted attending funeral ceremonies in the communities at Champhira. The secret behind all this quick adjustment to the local setting is their taking every experience as part of drama.

Said Gitte, ‘’I survive because I take every experience as an adventure and I make a lot of friends in the villages. That way, I manage culture shock.’’

After their stay with CARD, CSC and Eagles Relief all the 14 volunteers will be redeployed to Chisomo Children’s Club and to CHAM hospitals namely Thembe, Chiringa and Kanyama.

DanChurchAid is an International humanitarian NGO and member of the ACT Alliance working with partners in Right to Food, Civic & Political Space, HIV and AIDS and disaster response.

In Chikhwawa DCA partners with Eagles Relief and in Nsanje it partners with CARD while in Champhira it is in partnership with Christian Service Committee.

DCA has been in the country doing relief and humanitarian work since 1980’s and the volunteer programme is ongoing for both professionals and non professionals.

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