My time volunteering
I went to volunteer and make a small difference, but came home with more than I ever imagined.
I set off with a team of fellow volunteers from the UK. Our project was to implement an open source human resources system for the Ministry of Health, called iHRIS. We expected challenges, but little did we know that there were rolling power and water cuts, even in the Ministry of Health itself.
This was definitely not the typical IT environment that any of us were used to.
The impact of my placement
The iHRIS project delivered a working system and many repaired computers at multiple offices, which enabled the staff to work more effectively. But, the biggest contribution was simply sharing our skills with our local colleagues.
Along the way, we also learnt from them. Especially the importance of a little patience when dealing with Malawian customs and ways of working, as well as general bureaucracy, which is just as present in the UK.
My unforgettable moments
- Tracking down the only domain registrar in person to register a website address for our system!
- Discovering that a basic 1 Mbps broadband Internet connection costs 850 USD per month! Luckily, we managed to secure a space in the only government server room we could find, for free. But, while we were installing the server, there was a power cut!
The impact my placement has had on me
I made many lifelong friends in Malawi. Living and working there have given me a lot of wonderful memories and a yearning to do more development work in the future. The hands-on technical IT skills I had to learn took me out of my comfort zone and have been useful in the my career ever since.
I now help to ran a charity called the Friends of Malawi Association, which provides small grants to grassroots projects in Malawi.