A Malawian in India!

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Time was clicking so fast that I did not realize that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 landing at Lilongwe International Airport in my homeland Malawi was ready to take me on an adventure. Destination? India!

Fasten your seatbelts as we are preparing to land at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi where I would be meeting our two newest Media Officers at CARE India – Isha Agarwal and Akanksha Nigam – and Diana Beckmann, my CARE USA partner on JMV. I knew that my mission for Join My Village (JMV) had begun in India. I had so many fears about the people I am meeting, their culture and how do I fit myself in there. By the way, I am a noisy fellow who opens up to anybody and so I said to myself, “I will watch and observe,” and be funny but helpful.

With Diana to the left of the back seat and me the other side we experienced the beauty of New Delhi while heading for CARE India offices for a meeting with fellow JMV staff.   We started the JMV media retreat by sharing the experience and challenges where we also talked about the roles of the Media officers and managing our Join My Village website and Facebook page. We are always working to make JMV fun and interesting for our fans!  Second in our agenda were the programs in JMV India which we also visited.

The next destination was Uttar Pradesh where we had a field visit to a Maternal Health program in Sarai Mihi village of Banki Block of Barabanki district. Unlike in Malawi where I usually translate for others here I had no choice but use my eyes to see while Akansha our new Media officer in Uttar Pradesh, Suniti, and Ruchika Logani did the great work for me and Diana to understand what was being discussed. The maternal health program is helping change the lives of many households in Sarai Mihi Village. Men now start recognizing the need to help their wives as a family. They are moving towards appreciating the role their wives play and the need for their support.

While appreciating that when women and girls are enhanced with education, they can end generational cycles of poverty and disease and provide a foundation for sustainable development. It is for this reason that JMV is working with Indian government resource centers like the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) in Gilola development block of Shrawasti district.

We summed up our day with a visit to Puraina where we had an interaction with a group of Adolescent Girls of Kishori Samooh who are being trained in leadership and building their confidence.

When I first landed in India, I had a bad impression thinking that everyone in India is better off until I was able to go out in the villages and I felt my stereotypical thinking would have been a curse to the innocent lives of people in the Indian villages.

I was touched more than expected but went home happier because I know JMV will help change the lives of many marginalized women and girls in India. The welcome I had was excellent. Namaste and Danyavaad are the words I will never forget to say to my brothers and sisters in India. DANYAVAAD!!