Volunteer Blog: Caroline
Caroline Clarke is our Volunteer Advisory Teacher for the Deaf based in Blantyre, Malawi for six months from March 2018. She will be delivering the training of itinerant special needs teachers in hearing loss awareness as part of our educational component of our comprehensive audiology services in Southern Malawi, to ensure children with hearing loss are identified and supported in a mainstream classroom. To find out more about the Sound Seekers team click here.
Caroline at Heathrow Airport on her way to Malawi
Malawi here I come
“Here I am!! On my way to a far away place where the temperature is much hotter than it is in the UK, YEAH!! I am filled with mixed emotions, mostly excitement with the odd moments of trepidation thrown in. It’s almost incredible to think I am going off to Malawi and will be there for six months. I’ve had amazing send-offs at various times with colleagues, Gym buddies, friends and family. They all treated me to lovely gifts, cards, well wishes and a singing rendition of ‘Let There Be Love’. I felt chuffed even chocked at times to be leaving all this ‘love’ behind.
My first hurdle at Heathrow was hitting my 2x 23kg baggage allowance. The first suitcase on the scale weighed 27kg and the other 31kg. It’s six months!!! I need stuff and I need plenty of it. So getting rid of stuff was not going to be an easy task. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that packing for me is an operation of strategy and aesthetics. The process starts with a carefully headed list and finishes with packing cubes neatly tessellated in the case. Nothing is ever just ‘thrown’ in my case. Then there is the issue of opening up your suitcase in the concourse of a busy airport. NEVER A GOOD LOOK!! Luckily for me my pride took the earlier flight to Malawi so I was able to do what was necessary and told myself never to speak of it again. That was my first valuable lesson of ‘change’ and ‘living with less’. You’ll be pleased to know I jumped that hurdle after the third attempt.
The next hurdle was to say bye, hmmm. I had a brief moment of what I’ve come to refer to as a ‘wobble’. I felt tightness in my chest, butterflies, dragonflies, fireflies and ‘whatever else’ flies, all fluttering in my stomach. I took one look outside at the blanket of snow on the ground, heavy dark grey clouds, the beginnings of a blizzard-like snowstorm, the sub zero degree temperature and quickly jumped my second hurdle. I was off on my Malawian adventure. I feel very fortunate and excited to be heading off to what I think will be an amazing experience. I know there will be many challenges ahead but the end goal to train over 90 teachers in some of the issues in deaf education and hearing loss awareness makes this a worthy cause”.