Luca Pozzoni, 22 years old, from Bergamo (Italy). A volunteer in Malawi for 6 months.
Why did you come to Balaka (Malawi)?
I needed to experience a different culture, to touch with my hands the reality of Malawi, apart from the description I had through television, which was unfortunately, often very negative.
I have discovered that problems are there but contrary to the messages of the television, Malawian people are living the difficulties in a positive way and with hope. I also wanted to come here to be useful, not for personal benefit but to help others.
In which activities have you been involved while here?
I have been involved in Education activities at the Andiamo Secondary School where together with my friend Alessandro Maggi, were teaching Italian language. I had also an opportunity of being part of the Andiamo Bullets (Football team of Andiamo Youth Cooperative) acting as a coach.
I also worked in the new Community Hospital, painting the walls of the new structure and other little works as digging the safety tanks and others. I have also been building relations with Malawian youths, sometimes assisting them for their needs for education and health care.
In which of these activities did you really feel involved?
I think I was emotionally involved in all of them. From the education experience, I learnt the level of education of Malawi and that is a very important thing. I think our efforts in cooperation should be addressed mainly to education and health. In football, I just continued my passion, and being fully involved in the team as the only foreigner, I had the chance to know Malawian youth. It was a challenge to me to be able to coach and organise a team together with my Malawian friends.
How different are Malawian youths from the Italian ones?
I feel Italians take more seriously the passage from being youth to being adult than Malawian youths. When we reach 18 years old we want to plan our future, family and work. I think that in Malawi this passage is softer or slower.
Which suggestions do you give to young Italian volunteers?
They leave as soon as possible and come to Malawi because here they will learn many things. Here, they learn a different relation with material things discovering a different social system from that of Italy. Here, they will learn that it is possible to focus one’s life not only basing it on economic careers but also for a personal growth and the growth of the community. So I invite Italian youths to come to Malawi, where they will gain nothing financially but receive a lot personal growth. Finally I invite volunteers coming to Malawi to spend a lot of time with Malawian people rather than with Italian or other foreign volunteers only.
What about the volunteers that you met in Balaka?
I had the occasion to meet many people, especially old volunteers. I am of the opinion that more youths should also come to Malawi because it is easier for them to come in contact with the Malawian youths and build good relations with them. The youths should come with the idea of sharing rather than to impose or teach what they believe.
I also think that if we give the opportunity to single volunteers to work with Malawian teams of workers it will be easy for them to integrate with the local people. If we always stay in groups of Italian volunteers we risk sharing our views only with them missing the idea of sharing our time with Malawians.
Can you describe one of the interesting events you lived in Malawi?
Yes, I remember one day when I was working, the hoe hit my foot causing a little injury. After that I also had low pressure and fainted. I would like to underline the care I received from people. Everybody was offering assistance and care showing a big sense of humanity. That is not always common in Italy or other “developed” countries. The experience I had in the village of Kapandatsitsi also touched me but I will leave this to Ale to describe it as we were together.
Thanks for your cooperation Luca and … we’ll meet again for the combined interview with your friend Ale