Volunteer Blog: Jenny
Jenny Buckley is our new Volunteer Teacher of the Deaf in Malawi. Jenny will be in based in Blantyre until June 2018 as the technical lead for the education component of the Comprehensive Audiology Services in Blantyre, where she will train Itinerant Special Needs teachers on the inclusion of children with hearing loss in mainstream schools and basic awareness on Primary Ear and Hearing Care.
Four weeks on
“I’ve been in Blantyre for 4 weeks now and if I’m being honest it’s been a mixture of ups and downs. I knew before coming here that things would be hard but I’m adjusting, slowly but surely. The first week I was here I was incredibly tired so most of that week I would end up going back to the lodge, quickly eating something and then end up spending the rest of the evening in my room. The second week was better as I started to meet new people and began building a new life here, my social life is better here than in the UK!
The second week also saw the project start to take off as I met with Wilson at the Education Department and a group of Itinerant Special Needs Teachers. This was a great opportunity to discuss the training they had already received and to get their views on potential areas that the project could cover. I was grateful for their support and feedback.
The third week began with a trip to Lilongwe to visit the Directors of Education, prior to the meeting I was feeling anxious but it all went smoothly and we are now all set to begin”. During this week I also travelled to Maryview School for the Deaf to find out how they support children with hearing loss and Montfort Teacher Training College which is next to the school. I felt really excited after this visit as the meeting with the Principal and teacher trainer was really positive, I really felt that we can work in collaboration to identify gaps so the project will support and compliment the work that is already done here.
The fourth week was more challenging as I moved into my house share there were frequent power cuts for extensive periods of time and we had no water for almost a week. I had started to get used to the power cuts but not having water was extremely hard, but I survived and the water returned at the weekend. I’m still adjusting and it’s strange how you start to do things in a different way. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few weeks will bring, every day brings a different challenge so who knows what will happen next!”
Watch this space for further updates.
The start of a new adventure
“Arriving at the airport I was filled with mixed emotions. On the one hand I was excited to leave and go on an adventure, but on the other hand I was nervous as I have never visited a country in Africa before. I was also sad about leaving my friends and family and the sense of normality behind but was keen to meet new people and experience a different culture and way of life. I kept myself grounded and made sure to go with the flow and enjoy each moment. There were tears once I said my final farewells but once I’d been through security and got to the boarding gate a sense of excitement began to creep upon me. I met a friendly couple who were on my flight and were travelling to South Africa they helped me through the boarding process, I’m grateful that wherever you go there’s always someone willing to help.
The flight was long and I didn’t manage to get much sleep but the seat was comfortable and there was lots of entertainment to keep me going. The next flight was about five hours long with a stop at Lilongwe
Landing in Blantyre I became anxious as the airport was nothing like I’d seen before. As I walked off the plane the heat hit me immediately and I employed some deep breathing to steady my nerves. Once inside the airport my anxiety quickly went as I was met by helpful and friendly staff who made things go smoothly. I was helped with my cases and Courtney (Sound Seeker’s Volunteer Audiogist in Malawi) was there to pick me. This is a time of first’s for me, my first trip to Africa, my first long haul flight by myself, my first encounter with catching a connecting flight and my first volunteer placement to mention but a view. I am grateful for the opportunity and will continue to go with the flow and enjoy each moment.
I actually woke up this morning and forgot where I was, I bet this will happen every morning for a while!!”
Watch this space for new blogs to follow Jenny’s progress over the next 9 months in Malawi.