In the past few days, I’ve had time to reflect on the trip. Every time I talk to someone about it, they tell me the same thing. Which is how much of a great experience I must’ve had. I believe that it runs deeper than that. For a long time I felt lost, in regards to my career goals. I always knew that I wanted to help people, but my passion has evolved on a greater scale. I want to travel, to help communities develop self-sustainable businesses. I want to fight for social justice alongside these communities that have been affected through exploitation, selfishness and greed. Malawi has inspired me to keep reaching for my goals and to not settle for anything less. It has taught me how to be grateful, not just for the big things, but for the little things too. The people have shown me pure kindness and love throughout the two weeks. Saying goodbye was so difficult, I made incredible friendships with wonderful people.
I’ve grown attached to the children in MCM. I can’t stop talking about Yvone to my friends. She’s in standard three; she loves to dance and read books. I was able to witness her eagerness to improve her English and learn more. The first time I met her, was during the welcome show that the MCM children prepared for us. Yvone was sitting in one of the chairs and she would look at me and every time I would wave at her, she would giggle. The next day she grabbed my hand and excitedly pulled me to the library. This routine continued for the rest of the two weeks. She would pick out a book and read it. When she was unsure of a word she would pronounce it as best as she could and look at me for approval. She would also point to objects in the book that she has never seen. She once pointed at an airplane and I explained to her how it flies and how it’s used for travel. I could see her eyes brighten up with more curiosity. She taught me some Chichewa, including the words beautiful, happy and the phrase “see you tomorrow”. I know she will be an amazing person when she grows up.
One day we were playing with five other girls. At one point, one of the little girls pushed another girl. Yvone got in between and talked to both of them in a very sweet manner (this should’ve been my “what” for the day but it completely slipped my mind). I didn’t understand what the exchange of words was but I noticed how the two girls quickly stopped fighting and were friends again. Yvone has many strong, powerful characteristics and she’s so young to even realize it. On the last day, she didn’t want to let go of my hand for a second. Every step that we took closer to the car, she would whisper “no”. I felt the sadness in her voice and it made me tear up. I remember looking at Professor Blitz and telling her “Yvone doesn’t want to let go”. I eventually kneeled down to say goodbye and she looked at me and gave me a long, warm hug. She said, “Goodbye Aunty Maria. Miss you.” I didn’t expect this to happen, I realized the impact that I had on this little girl was just as equal as the impact that she has had on me. Yvone truly stole my heart and she has allowed me to be her friend, and for that I will forever be grateful.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have the life that I do. To have my parents who are healthy and support my dreams. I’m so appreciative for my siblings who are in good schools filled with opportunities that I used to take for granted. I may not have it all, but I have a healthy life and family. That’s more than enough.