We Are The Human Race

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Even a small amount of understanding can bring about tremendous change. In every conflict, there is a misunderstanding and a lack of acceptance.  It’s in our nature to defend what it is that we believe in, even if there are costs.  We are so easily blindfolded by what we care about, no matter how insignificant.  During my visit to Malawi with Concern, I was completely taken aback. I hadn’t known what to expect, but what I learned there will certainly shape the way I will live out the rest of my life.

IMG_3242Our first field day for me was one that I will surely never forget. We were travelling in the district of Mchinji to visit the kitchen gardens that were being established to promote healthy eating and food diversity. The long travel to our location was well worth the effort as the learning opportunities were everywhere. Our first stop brought us to the home of a mother named Naomi. We learned about her lifestyle and the immense changes that have been made in an effort to improve her family’s quality of life and sustainability.  We were given the opportunity to learn about some of the facilities used in the family’s daily routine. Naomi was always enthusiastic to show us around and answer any questions that we could think of.

The second leg of this field visit took us further along unpaved roads to a village where we encountered something that I had not expected. We were greeted by a crowd of people who were all singing and dancing. We were given a V.I.P. tour of the village and saw some of the improvements that Concern was initiating, and witnessed pieces of their traditional practices and architecture. We were seated under a shade tree where we were warmly welcomed with a prayer and then by the village head who was thanking us for visiting, and for all of the work that Concern had done. Shortly after, a group of mothers gathered together to show us the lead mother program that met twice a month to teach about health, sanitation, and motherhood. A second group shared with us a savings and loans program in which a small group of individuals deposited an amount of money each week towards one larger savings account. The members of each group can then take out a loan of three times the amount they had put in, with interest. At thIMG_9152e end of the year they divide all of the savings earned equally amongst depositors. Through this program a woman was able to purchase a bicycle for her daughter to travel to and from school.

In my short time in the warm heart of Africa, I have learned lots about myself as well as the hopes and dreams of individuals many perceive as living completely different lifestyles. In those few days it is possible to see that even across oceans, mountains, and plains, we all still strive for similar goals and aspirations. We all want the same things, the best life that we can provide for our family, friends, and community. I take comfort in knowing that despite our differences, we are still one human race.

Isaac Stadel is a senior at Scales Mound High School in Illinois. He was a GCC field visit participant to Malawi in July 2017.