Interview with Alessandro Maggi

Alessandro Maggi, 23 years old, from Bergamo (Italy), volunteer in Malawi for 6 months.

Why did you come to Balaka (Malawi)?
I came because of different reasons, and it is not easy for me to explain. I had a need of being in self – competition. (To be in competition with myself). I wanted to discover my limits, know myself better. I think my challenge was to accept the reality of Malawi. That was the main fight with myself: being here realizing that I am privileged: feeling that I should give something, help somehow, use positively my privilege.

In which activities have you been involved while here?
I have been involved with Luca in the Italian language course for Malawian students. I held a Yoga course with a good group of students belonging to the different education institutions of Andiamo. I helped in the painting of the Community Hospital, tracing the lines of the Basketball Court. Finally I was involved in different personal relations with Malawian youths. I have also had the occasion to live a full one week with a village Malawian family.

In which of these activities did you really feel involved?
The one-week experience I had in Kapandatsitsi village, for sure. There I had the occasion to go beyond the appearance. Going and living for some days in this village meant discovering how a typical Malawian family lives: what they eat, where they sleep, what they do daily.

Life in Balaka is quite difficult as it is now a little town. I mean, it was a direct and deeper experience, which gave us the real understanding of the Malawian life. In the village we can understand Malawian people better. I remember children waking up and rushing to the maize fields helping to prepare the land with hoes. We got all these aspects of life that gave us a complete view of Malawi.

How different are Malawian youths from the Italian ones?
We are different because of the different experiences we have in the different societies we live. We are what we live. We start thinking from this point of view. We should leave the pride, which we were born with and understand that we are all the same.

Which suggestions do you give to young Italian volunteers?
Young volunteers should come to Malawi. They should bring a lot of smiles with them. They should also bring hope with them but leaving it a moment in a drawer ready to be used.

They should try to laugh, if they don’t manage, they should at least smile. Without smiles I think that the experience in Malawi could be difficult. But eventually Malawians will be able to teach them how to smile always.

What about the volunteers that you met in Balaka?
Among the volunteers, I found a big heart in different people’s character. Limits are in all of us but they do not weigh too much when there is a big heart.

Can you describe one of the interesting events you lived in Malawi?
I remember very well one episode that happened in Kapandatsitsi village. An old man (Agogo in Chichewa language) asked me:”How many children does an Italian family usually have?” I answered: “Usually … one or two”. The Agogo was surprised and asked: “But … if one dies?” I had no other word to answer him …

Thanks for your cooperation Ale and … we’ll wait now for the combined interview you had “against” Luca.


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