blog entry #4

blog entry #4

Wednesday 17th June 2015

After a quick post workout shower, the team hurried together to the hall for another coaching workshop! Today’s aim was to explore the tools needed for ‘reflection’. In our workshops we try and use games and activities as often as possible in order to best engage the participants. Therefore we started the day off with a game of football with a twist. One of the team devised a game to illustrate the ‘attack and defence’ of an objective, the objective being the ability to critically/deeply reflect on a situation within the mentoring of young people. Half of the team wore labels for the defence, such as ‘lack of time’ and ‘lack of enthusiasm’… whilst the attack had labels such as ‘team work’ and ‘communication’. A lot of laughs and near tackles later, we all sat down a little more out of breath to look at how we could apply this game to both theory and real life.

Our next activity was for the Malawian team to step into the shoes of a young person their project has helped, their individual struggles, and the consequences of these. In small groups, it was our job then to interview the Malawian team to find out information about these individuals. Soon stories of Malawian children and adults flowed.

One of the participants shared a story about growing up with dwarfism, a condition that hadn’t been medically recognised by the community, and so was referred not by her name, but by her identity as a ‘small person’. We were told how this woman felt so exiled from society because of the stigma attached to her that she was scared to leave her home, and only left occasionally to try and sell some vegetables at the market in order to stop herself starving. During her life to this point, this woman was raped and gave birth to a son. Despite struggling to survive herself, this healthy baby boy became a blessing to her life, and a hope that she would have someone to help her later on in life. However, when the child was three years old, he too started to show signs that he also had dwarfism. In our interview, we asked if we could do one thing to make their life better, what would it be?  The participant shared how although money and health care would make a big difference to their lives, their true hope and wish was that society would soon accept their condition so that they could be free to live life without stigma. She said that Sport Malawi had started this process.

We were all quiet, digesting the story told.

Although we were happy that this woman was having some relief and that Sport Malawi had been an important part of this, its was difficult to comprehend the situation, a conflict, to think that even in one of the poorest countries in the world, an individual values acceptance over anything monetary. Luckily a break was called in order for each person to go off and reflect on the stories we had heard.

Listening to each-others stories has cemented the reason why we are out here in Malawi. From an outsider it may seem like we are merely a group of students in Malawi for a month to play football in the African sun, but when we meet those who have been assisted by the Sport Malawi project, you can’t help but feel like you are part of something that years of teams have built… it’s incredibly humbling.

The extent of the communities and individuals that our project has now reached is humbling. Whether walking down the street and being welcomed back into the Country from someone who has heard of the good the project has done, or the individual testimonies of growth of projects, athletes and perspectives gives such a feeling of pride to those who have helped build Sport Malawi.

During our lunch breaks Glenn has been teaching a lot of us Volleyball recruiting for the university’s team no doubt, but our practise caught the attention of some local children who came and put us through our paces and showed us how to play it Malawi style. From an intense day, the simple life of how many people can be brought together just though a ball brings a sense of peace and perspective from our busy and fast paced lifestyles.