Mixed emotions overwhelmed me. The happiness of making new memories and the sadness of leaving all that I had come to know. However, I did not regret the decision to temporarily leave my country. The first memories where made in Kampala, Uganda. It was an educational and fun filled three-day camp. Meeting youth from other countries made me realise we are all united in our vision to make Africa a better place. Taking note that even with all the varieties of languages and cultures, there were actually no boundaries among us. We are united with the Africa we want in mind.
From bonding with a large number of youth in Kampala, my journey continued in the multi-cultural South Africa. We were narrowed down to 16 young people ready to be Advocates for Change! The training I received was only for three weeks. However those three weeks completely influenced my life for the better. It is precious knowledge that I will always treasure and educate others about as well. In the rainbow nation, we especially focused on personal development. A journey to rediscover myself. It was like looking at myself in the mirror and then completing a critical analysis. In the process, I was equipped to learn to tolerate new cultures and to be open minded. With all of this to my advantage, I was geared up to face the waves of Madagascar.
Home to some of the unique species found nowhere else on the earth. Humble yet beautiful, full of flora and fauna, is the breath-taking island called Madagascar. I called this place home from February to November 2017.
Not knowing what to expect, I dived head first knowing that I would never hit a rock nor would I sink. Along with three other participants, we were given a warm Malagasy welcome. Malagasy food quickly filled us and gave us more energy. I really enjoyed their rice water (ranopango). Made from burnt saltless rice, it is good enough to quench any thirst!
In my home country Zimbabwe, our main languages are Shona and English. This was in sharp contrast to Madagascar. I made the effort to learn the Malagasy language. As difficult as it is, I was successfully able to hold conversations with some of the native speakers.
My time with YMCA Madagascar was an unforgettable one. Interacting with the youth touched my heart. It’s like when it rains after a time of drought. New life springs forth and make its surroundings a beautiful habitable place. Of noteworthy mention are the English clubs I was involved in. Just watching pupils advance their English and knowing that you played a role for that to be a success is beyond words. That sense of impact moves one to tears of happiness. Being involved with the Madagascar YMCA gave me many ideas to implement in my beautiful Zimbabwe. I also took the opportunity to share the wisdom that I already had. Sharing is caring!
Days were not always the same. Some days were diamonds and others, stones. In the midst of fun, I also had rough days. I remember very well getting lost in the streets of Antananarivo. As scary as it was, I turned it into an adventure. It became an exercise journey for almost two hours before I eventually found my way back home! I also remember missing the last bus to go home. Scared and lonely I used the last battery power of my mobile device to get help. The list is endless. But somehow I think these two are probably going to last for a life time.
They say love only needs to touch one time and then last for a life time. This is true in my case. I made new friends who added value to my time in Madagascar! Goodbye has always been the hardest word for me to say. It pained me like a thorn stuck in flesh. I am grateful to everyone who came into my life. They helped empower me even further.
I would like to thank Africa Alliance of YMCAs, YMCA Madagascar and YMCA Zimbabwe for giving me the opportunity of a life time.
The journey for the Africa we want goes on.
Caroline Nyakubaya – YMCA Zimbabwe, YAC 2017