Volunteer in Malawi with COFO – We are a small local organization based in Chikwawa involved in a youth empowerment, education, women empowerment that aims at reducing the HIV/AIDS care and prevention among young people through access to information and capacity building in life skills, sexual reproductive health, Leadership skills, positive living and recreational activities. The program is targeting in and out of school young people both girls and boys in Chikwawa semi-urban and rural area.
The main object for which the organization is established is to aspire to improve the living conditions of the poor and marginalized by adopting strategies through community initiative, socio-economic empowerment and promotes dialogue and debate within the beneficiary communities. Also to challenge the socio-economic inequalities and enable the vulnerable sections of society towards the goal of self-reliance.
What are the tasks and activities involved?
We ask the volunteer to teach English, Mathematics, play games and bring a bit of light and love in this area with your personality and skills to the children and community in large. Once you visit us, you will be teaching at school from Monday-Friday and we encourage you to help the staffs and planning additional activities in the afternoon. You will also provide various activities to the children in the area, such as
- art drawing,
- recreation activities (sports)
What type of host are you?
What are you looking for help with?
- Charity Work/Fundraising
- Teaching/Language Exchange
- General Help
What’s the mission of your community?
- Community Forum (COFO) is a not-for-profit organization, which builds community-driven approaches for sustainable development. Our interventions focus on improving the lives of women and girls, education and vocational skills enhancement, climate change intervention, food security, health and nutrition promotion, and HIV/AIDS awareness-raising and prevention. It was incorporated in Malawi as not-for-profit Company limited by guarantee in June 2018 the registration number 1011976.
- COFO’s mission is to challenge socio-economic inequalities and assist in navigating the vulnerable populations in Chikwawa district toward self-reliance. The vision of COFO is to build a community where all citizens have the opportunity for a high quality of life, including but not limited to high standards of education, gender equality, health, and employment/entrepreneurship.
- To achieve its objectives, Community Forum (COFO) works very closely with the community at a grassroots level in collaboration with the local and national government structures. Within its projects, COFO also collaborates with regional, national and international non-governmental and community-based organizations which share the vision for Malawians to thrive in their communities and become engaged global citizens. Members of the organization are recruited from southern Malawian communities to help develop and implement its projects. Together, these stakeholders build the capacity of local citizens, increase community member involvement, and promote a healthy and democratic community free from sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, hunger, disease and poverty.
How many volunteers could you host?
- More than two
When would you need volunteers?
Any time volunteers can come to work with Community Forum
How many hours of help per day?
4-5 hours of help per day
How many days of help per week?
5 days per week – 2 days off
Note about the volunteer work and other expectations
Although we understand you are taking on a way of life that you are not probably used, we still expect you to be sensitive and mindful towards the people you are working. The volunteer expected to have a Visa before entering Malawi to avoid misunderstanding between government departments such as Migration and security department.
The office is usually open from around 7:30 am until around 6pm
- Updating the website
- Social media updates
- Helping to write funding proposals – researching suitable and available funds etc.
- Possibly setting up some electronic filing (e.g. putting names of community group attendees into Excel spreadsheets rather than having them all on paper, or starting a monthly log with group attendance numbers).
- Training in Excel and PowerPoint
Are accommodation and food included?
Yes, food and accommodation are included with the volunteering contribution fee [See fees transparency section beow]
What type of accommodation can you provide?
- Private Room
- Private room for a couple
Diet – nutrition information
The available foods in Chikwawa are rice, fish, pasta, fruits, chicken, potatoes, cassava and various vegetables at the local market. In Malawi we have staple dish made from maize flour and water called Nsima. Volunteers will be lucky enough to share their meals with a host family each day. The food in Chikwawa often consists of a staple of nsima (maize) or rice with vegetables and beans. These foods can be purchased by bargaining at open markets in the local area.
Fees transparency – Volunteers can choose from three types of accommodation:
- HomeStay $5-7 per day. You can stay with a host family in a village which is a great opportunity to experience the unique culture of Malawi. When staying with a host, we will ensure you are safe and well looked after. However, facilities are basic and you would be expected to use local toilets and bucket showers. Your food will be prepared by the family and you will receive 3 meals a day.
- Lodge $9.72-$20 per day. You can stay in a lodge in Chikwawa and get a lift on a bicycle to your volunteering location each day. You will have a flush toilet and shower. You will receive three meals a day, mostly in the restaurant; some meals will be prepared on-site where you are volunteering.
- Hostel; the volunteers are allowed to have their own house where they are asked to the house per month at reasonable price at the range of $70.44- $208.33 per month according to facility of the house.
VISA – could you provide Visa support/info/invitation letters?
Maybe. We can help with an invitation letter, if the candidate has good qualifications.
There are many reasons to volunteer with COFO including the following:
- It will be an unforgettable experience – you will get to engage in Malawian life, learn more about the culture, share your knowledge and get to know and learn from the locals.
- As a relatively new local NGO, COFO lacks the resources of other larger charities. As a small organization, it is more difficult for us to receive international funding – so we rely on the assistance and funds from our volunteer programs.
- We are more affordable than other international volunteering organizations as there is no middle man. This means there is no administration fee and your money will go to cover your food, accommodation and a small contribution to the running of the project.
- The Lower Shire is one of the poorest places in Malawi and currently does not receive many international volunteers. Therefore, there is a great need in many of the communities and volunteers have the opportunity to make a real difference.
- Volunteering can be a great way to build confidence, develop personally, learn new skills or even just develop old ones. It looks good on your CV (resume) and may give you something interesting to talk about in a job interview.
What to do in the free time
Things to do on your time off
If you would like to explore other parts of Malawi while you are here, there are a variety of things to do on your time off.
- Wildlife Safari: Majete Wildlife Reserve and Lengwe National Park are both easily accessible from Chikwawa¬- wildlife viewing can be done from the comfort of a game viewing vehicle or on a bushwalk for the more adventurous. You can also experience village life and culture and enjoy the music, dancing and traditional cooking of Malawi.
- Climb Mount Mulanje: Mount Mulanje is the highest mountain in Malawi (over 3000m) and is one of the most beautiful mountain areas with its dense green valleys and dazzling waterfalls. There are a number of 2/3 day hikes you can undertake in the area.
- Visit Lake Malawi: Spend a weekend in Mangochi on the shores of Lake Malawi – relax by the lake, go kayaking or snorkelling!
- Explore the Zomba Plateau: Go hiking in the Zomba plateau – with wild vegetation, crisscrossed by streams with tumbling waterfalls and still lakes. There are a number of trails to be explored and guides can be hired.
Also, the volunteer/s at free time will exchange culture with local people in Chikwawa and learn more Malawian life and share knowledge and get to know real life in locals.
Though English is the official language of the country, most people in Chikwawa speak Chichewa. In addition, most citizens in the region practice Christianity and the volunteer can expect to see this religion ingrained in the culture of the area. The citizens of Chikwawa are extraordinarily friendly and happy to practice their English or speak to newcomers as they are developing their Chichewa.
Chikwawa district is a region located in the Southern Region of Malawi. It is situated on the west bank of the Shire River approximately 48 kilometres south of Blantyre. The city holds about 6,114 people, a large portion of them working as farmers, shop keepers, tailors, hairdressers, or bicycle taxi drivers. Chikwawa district is one of the lowest income regions in the country, with many people carrying burdens related to health and wealth inequalities. Due to these wealth gaps, there is low funding and availability for human resources of government programs in the district. Low wages and financial resources for crucial institutions like schools and health facilities lead to inefficient systems which plague the district’s health and education. In addition, low fund availability for these programs leads to low employment and job development.
Chikwawa actually means ‘valley’ in Chichewa and therefore tends to be flat throughout the region. Due to this low elevation and the heat of Malawi, Chikwawa tends to be an especially hot region of Malawi. In order to distract oneself from the heat in the hot months, there are quite a few places to visit on the weekend. Majete Wildlife Reserve is located just next to Chikwawa and offers exquisite wildlife safaris. One can also visit Nchalo, which holds restaurants, shops, and the sprawling Nchalo sugar plantations. Nchalo is just a 30-minute minibus ride from the accommodation and also holds the closest ATM.
How to get to your site
For airport pick-up, the volunteers have two options. The volunteer can choose to have COFO arrange a private car and driver which costs between $67 to $70. If the volunteer wishes, they can also choose to use local transport (minibuses) which costs $10-$15 for one volunteer. Both of the members of the organization staff will arrange to meet with the volunteer at the airport at Chileka in Blantyre, which is the closest to Chikwawa. The ride from Chileka airport to Chikwawa takes about an hour and some hour and a half depending on the car – a gorgeous 64 km drive through the mountains down into the valley that is Chikwawa.
Is there internet access?
“Paying guests” Option. Could you accommodate “solidarity” tourists?
Yes, we can accommodate eco/responsible tourists & paying guests (what is this?)
Hostname: Joshua Adrian Malunga
Community Forum, P.O. Box 198, Chikwawa
+265 888 451 874 / +265 999 451 874
Host Email: email@example.com
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