Blog Article: Exploring Gap Year Learning in Malawi
Ethan Humphreys- Umunthu Foundation, Malawi (2022/23)
What has been your biggest learning over the past 12 months?
It is quite hard to think of just one, but above all I had to learn to become more independent and mature. That’s not to say this happened overnight, as it didn’t. It was something I learnt as the year went on, to be able to take complete care of myself without relying on anyone else to help me with my day-to-day tasks. As well as this, I also learnt to stand up for myself. During my year I was put in lots of situations where this was tested, but with the right mindset I learnt to stand up for what I believe in and developed confidence in the decisions I made without second guessing myself.
Who inspired you the most during your placement?
My host, David, is such an impressive and inspiring person. He started up the HIV NGO: the Umunthu Foundation and has been running it for the past 20 years, providing free testing and medication, along with spreading awareness to thousands of people in surrounding communities. During recent years following Covid-19, Umunthu’s external funding has declined massively. David has taken it upon himself to balance running the Umunthu Foundation with provide the NGO with his own personal funding. I find him very inspiring as not only does he have the most dedicated work ethic I’ve probably ever seen, but he also always has a smile on his face. No matter how difficult the situation is, David is constantly optimistic about the future, despite many newfound hardships for the Foundation and Malawi in general. Whenever I think about David, all these amazing attributes come to mind. I aim to introduce his optimism and drive into my life, to make me an even better and more dedicated person in whatever direction I choose to take.
What was the best thing at Debriefing?
Debriefing was something I had been looking forward to for months before it took place, as just the thought of being back with everyone on Coll really excited me. When it got to Coll, seeing all the Volunteers from the other country groups after a year and reuniting with my group was everything I hoped it would be. It gave us the time to share stories and have a really good laugh with (and sometimes at) each other. There’s nothing quite like being able to share 3 days with 30 other people who know exactly what you’ve just been through and understand the experiences you’ve had. The chance to finish the most incredible year in Malawi with the other 2022/23 Volunteers and the Project Trust team is all I could have asked for. I know I’ll never have a weekend quite like that again, making it all the more special. Those memories are the ones I’ll truly nourish and treasure for the rest of my life.