Racism rocks VSO Malawi: 2 UK volunteers expelled for likening locals to dogs

Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Malawi has confirmed to Nyasa Times dismissing two British nationals who were in Malawi as volunteers for calling a Malawi a dog in Mzuzu.

Investigations reveal that the two dismissed volunteers (known as Thom and Arsalan) in demeaning  manner, likened their Malawian colleague to a dog through their exclusive Whatsapp chat group for UK volunteers.

However, the conversation got leaked and VSO authorities got its wind thereby instituting an investigation which ultimately found the two guilty of uttering racism remarks hence handing them a dismissal.

However, this development did not go down well with some UK volunteers in Mzuzu who felt their colleagues had been unfairly dismissed.

“We have written a letter expressing our dismay at the dismissal of Thom and Arsalan, they have been treated unfairly,” said a source, adding that some of the UK volunteers have since left the VSO Malawi volunteers chat group.

When contacted for a comment by Nyasa Times, VSO Country Manager Phil Thomas referred the matter to UK based VSO Global Media and Communications Manager Sean Kenny who confirmed and justified the disciplinary action.

“VSO condemns racism of all kinds and has strong anti-racism policies which staff and volunteers are expected to follow. In this case we investigated as soon as we became aware of the incident and took immediate disciplinary action,” Kenny responded to Nyasa Times questionnaire.

This news comes barely a few days after some foreign volunteers angered some community members in the northern region for teaching underage children (less than 10 year olds) how to put on condoms. VSO agrees the volunteers goofed and has since apologized to the communities.

“We have very clear guidelines that volunteers should only run events that are age appropriate and culturally appropriate. Unfortunately these guidelines were broken, for which we’re very sorry. We immediately apologised to local community leaders and sought their advice on how to repair any damage done,” Kenny explained in an interview with Nyasa Times.

Local people in Malawi have been subjected to a great deal of racism by foreign nationals mostly in workplaces.

Government and civil society organizations are yet to comment on this VSO Racism scandal.

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Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

So, in summary it seems that everyone agrees that racist foreigners should not be working in Malawi, even VSO clearly agrees with that. As to whether VSO should be in Malawi; I guess there’s an argument that aid isn’t working, but judging by the improvement in drinking water and primary schools in Malawi, it doesn’t seem to be the case. I think maybe the people posting here are too wealthy to have benefited directly from VSO. And the pay issue. It seems many of the Malawians posting here are quite wealthy maybe even with maids and cars (you don’t see… Read more »

Atheist
Guest

go to Central Poultry Kanengo office…there is a racist boss there from India…he mistreates Malawians big time…he is an Indian….akuluakulu a Malawi akuvutika in their on country

mussa
Guest
mussa

this azungus think there can do what there do in Europe here in MALAWI we have a Italian who has a so called hotel which is always booked and reserved by fellow Europeans in kambiri Salima he thinks he owns the beach as if he brought it from Italy he says you can’t pass in front of his so called hotel on a quard bikes at its only him and his fellow racists Europeans have the problem l say if you have a problem go back to Italy

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

Lol at rich people’s problems. ‘I can’t ride my quad bike in front of someone’s hotel’.

Keen Observer
Guest
Keen Observer

Those others as well if they feel that their colleagues were unfairly dismissed, them as well must go. No need to go two ways about it. Whether Malawi is poor or not BUT you can’t call somebody a dog, it’s unacceptable.

Nick
Guest
Nick

It is very sad that the racist chant has been triggered on such seemingly insubstantial evidence I worked as a VSO Volunteer for two yeears in Malawi; never noticed any racism in my colleagues and never suffered any from Malawians.
“Dog” may be a term of abuse in some circles (though I have always liked them myself), but racist?? I fear an injustice

Previous employee
Guest
Previous employee

In your time Nick, I was there. There was Janet and crew who was a racist as well. Dont pretend you knew nothing when malawians signed a petition for the previous Director, Dario and the racist Janet to leave. Malawians are looked down upon and treated unfairly in a manner that can be stated as racism. So, these issues are real. Thats why staff turn over is high. Unfortunately the regional office led by Kaday appears so not in control

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

People I have spoken to from VSO (I have both Malawian and foreign friends that have worked there and I have met Dario through my own work in an aid organisation). It seems to me that people at VSO leave to get higher paid jobs elsewhere, or their contracts run out. Was it racism that made the team write the letter? You say Dario was previous director, was he therefore sent home? What was the result? From the few times I have met him, I find it difficult to believe that he expressed any racism. How were the Malawians treated… Read more »

BigMan
Guest
BigMan

Well, while calling someone a dog is an insult, am not sure on its own it amounts to racism. Share the whole conversation for us to judge. Perhaps they qualified the insult with racial undertones, such as a “black dog”?

Reminds me of Mtafu’s “Agalu inu’ drama in parliament, but was it racism?

Patrick Gomani
Guest

let them go, they should never land on Malawis soils again…….by the way, do we need this racist org here? let them all go

Wilson
Guest
Wilson

These people though called volunteers, their upkeep allowances are admirable. Just imagine, a volunteer pocketing $980/month (K926,000 free of tax) as upkeep allowances and yet a full time employee getting less than K500,000 (gross pay) as taxable. Who should be a volunteer here? These international NGOs are racists themselves.

Uncover Malawi
Guest
Uncover Malawi

VSO volunteers receive a monthly allowance 5-6 times lower than you suggest.

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

Where do you get these amounts from? This is completely false. Adult volunteers get around 200 000 mwk (and require to be at least degree educated) and these youth volunteers probably get much less. Malawians working in the same area earn about three times or more what foreign volunteers get. A difficulty too is that foreign volunteers are charged much more for the same service as a Malawian colleague.

Mwananyanian
Guest
Mwananyanian

@Erik Peterson:
Re. your last sentence there: what services would these be where the volunteers are charged more than locals?

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

Anything that’s not fixed price: taxis, kabaza, food and goods in markets. When I was travelling in Africa with Malawian friends I would always stay in the car when they were arranging lodges so it wouldn’t affect the price. The irony being of course that my black Malawian friends are far wealthier than me. There’s a naive assumption that white people are always rich, but very few people in the UK can buy land and build their own houses, 7000 homeless people in London alone. The people that come to Malawi to help make sacrifices. As for racism, if you… Read more »

Previous employee
Guest
Previous employee

An MK200000 tax free coupled with a lucrative home rented for you in a best surburb plus guard allowance. Not forgeting the £4 per day earned in your home account… could you equate that to a 500000 paid to a graduate who ends up teaching the volunteers the job especially since most volunteers come clueless of their areas of expertise. Fails to adapt to reality and becomes cry babies to country director, most of whom are fellow azungus.

Maman
Guest
Maman

Be realistic. Where did you get the figures? I’m a volunteer and get 216,000 yet I do more work than my Malawian staff colleagues

Previous employee
Guest
Previous employee

What about the free rental house the organisation pays for you and the £4 you get in your international account, what about the medical cover at medi? Is that 216 in total. Come on. I was once a manager there. If you do much work, you are one of the very few better ones. Most volunteers are clueless of deverlopment issues in developing countries, thats why you are teaching a 10 year old condom use without any censorship. You dont respect Malawians and our culture. You move around with superiority yet most of the volunteers are so inexperienced. They want… Read more »

Maman
Guest
Maman

Ha ha ha ha. A wild cat. Maybe they have never seen a wild cat before. I rest my case, Previous employee

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

So, lets dismiss this pay argument because Malawians and Mzungus getting about the same. Now, as far as I am aware, this issue revolves around a private argument between people that aren’t even proper volunteers ((I heard they are youth volunteers.. not even sure if they get an income).

Vox Pop
Guest
Vox Pop

why do we stillhave these peolple coming to Malawi in the name of volunteers.

Success
Guest
Success

The same people are elsewhere in other African countries, they have the same views but in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya the are too scared of the locals. In Malawi were are good at fighting for rights when it comes to other black Malawian, but we are not confident, proud and patriotic in front of foreigners. The 7% of us who are well travelled and contribute to these forums, we know how to stand up for ourselves, but the local Malawian is of the view that Azungu and all that he does is superior. Politics aside I admire Bingo… Read more »

Wilson
Guest
Wilson

Ngakhale when driving pa nsewu mudzaonetsetse, amwenye ndi azungu, amangodutsa koma ife mpaka kutilanda galimoto kankhani kakang’ono, amvekere kuti mumazolowera kwambiri. Kuthothola misonkho yonse pa galimoto ngati ukuwapangira mwano chonsecho ayi. Enawo amangowalangiza kenako n’kuwasiya azipita ngakhale driving licence osawafunsa. Pamenepa mwini nthaka ya Malawi ndi ndani? Dzikoli tagulitsa basi. Ma foreigners akunjoya kwambiri m’Malawi muno kunena mosapita m’mbali!

Mwananyanian
Guest
Mwananyanian

Ndemang aina:
Ndipo a Police athu amayang’ana nkhope ya driver ali patali.
Ngati nkhope ndi yokuda bii, ndiye kuyamba kuchita flex minofu ya nkono; kukonzekela kuti auze driver kuti aime, afune olo asafune. Koma ngati nkhope ili yoyela, ndiye manja mthumba pompo pompo. Ati afase: diver aziti a Police a ku Malawi ndi a ulemu.
Chilungamo chili pati apa?
Ndiye kuti tizivala ma mask oyela eti? Ife powopa a Police athu?

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

Yup, Africa needs investment, not aid, but the comments here show Malawi is woefully unprepared for a global economy. If you look at any European country, a large percentage are made of foreigners. Malawi has very few foreigners (probably less than 1% compared to around 14% in the UK. It’s really a matter of choice.. development through investment and recruitment (which necessarily brings in foreigners) or poverty and closed borders.

Erik Peterson
Guest
Erik Peterson

Yup, there’s lots of wealthy Malawians in Lilongwe but they don’t seem to be reinvesting in the Malawian economy.. they’re buying japanese cars, south african food, and not volunteering to help their own population. The main people that are being helped aren’t the ones that can afford to be browsing this news on the internet, and so haven’t got a voice here.

ELIJAH VERSUS BAAL
Guest
ELIJAH VERSUS BAAL

CALLING A FELLOW HUMAN BEING (DOG ) IS BLASPHEMY !! HUMAN BEING IS A SPECIAL CREATION OF GOD HIMSELF –CREATED IN HIS IMAGE –AND YOU CALL MAN DOG ? MAY GOD(HIMSELF ) FORGIVE HIM ( THE WHO SAID THAT ) FOR HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT HE WAS SAYING

Shack
Guest
Shack

Why do white trash come to the land of black pple? Surprisingly no one invites them. We do not want them here!

Achiswe
Guest

Isn’t this a racist comment?

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