Case Study: Deria Wells, Mind returned volunteer

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by Charles Chingwalu, MIND UK Programme Coordinator


From Leicester to Lilongwe: The case of Deria Wells

Mai Chinangwa is a 37 year old woman with three children. Just like the other 15% of Malawi’s’ population, Mai Chinangwa is HIV positive and receives treatment at the Lighthouse (in Lilongwe, central Malawi) which sees 12,000 service users per month. The Lighthouse is Mind’s Local Partner.

I was thoroughly challenged by the sheer numbers of service users against service providers and I am glad that my placement contributed to the Millennium Goal of combating HIV/AIDS & malaria

Deria Wells expressed interest to volunteer her skills at the Lighthouse as a result of Mind’s promotional work on raising awareness about development issues affecting Malawi. During the assessment, Deria came across as having significant knowledge, experience and a right set of advocacy skills to work at the Lighthouse. Above all, she demonstrated a solid understanding of global issues and a positive attitude towards volunteering as a means for social change.

“I am amazed that a Malawian, rather than a European has come to volunteer”, remarked Mr Jimu, a staff member at the Lighthouse. Deria’s placement was two-pronged. Firstly, she capacity-built 10 local staff and 20 volunteers with skills in the effective organisation of service user engagement strategies. Secondly, Deria took lead in engaging 50 service users and empowered them with skills in lobbying and advocacy.

As a result of her work, service users have pro-actively engaged the Lighthouse in advocating for wider socio-economic support to maximise the benefits from the clinical interventions currently being provided. This is what MIND has learnt and the lighthouse is prepared to support MIND address this need.

”I am impressed that Malawians in the Diaspora are sharing skills back home”, commented Mai Mbeke, a service user.

At the end of her work, this is what Deria had to say: “I was thoroughly challenged by the sheer numbers of service users against service providers and I am glad that my placement contributed to the Millennium Goal of combating HIV/AIDS & malaria”.

Deria Wells: Outcomes of her Diaspora volunteering placement

Deria Wells, a social advocate, volunteered her skills at the Light House- a key HIV/AIDS service organisation where she joined local staff in service delivery and training. Deria engaged 50 service users and empowered them with skills in lobbying and advocacy.

As a result of her work, service users have pro-actively engaged the Lighthouse in advocating for wider socio-economic support in livelihoods to improve household incomes and nutrition, in-order to maximise the benefits from the clinical interventions currently being provided. Deria also capacity-built 10 local staff and 20 volunteers in the effective managing home based care activities, counselling and health promotion.

Due to this intervention, local staff and volunteers have demonstrated better skills in developing more responsive programme activities that are adding value to existing work strands. In light of the above, the Light House has been “moved” and planned to work with MIND in developing programmes around socio-economic support to families affected by HIV/AIDS, beyond the current clinical care it provides.