GoAbroad Interview

Augustine Kambalikena - Assistant Project Manager

Augustine Kambalikena - Assistant Project Manager

Augustine is from Namakoma village in the Mangochi district of Malawi. As a child he moved around a lot, so he completed part of his primary school education in northern Malawi and part of it in the south. Augustine then attended secondary school in the Mangochi district. After graduation he secured sponsorship to study community development and project management at a university in Lilongwe. Augustine began his relationship with Naturally Africa Volunteers as an intern, before becoming a translator for the organization and finally moving on to his current role.

Children walking on a dirt road in Malawi

On our way back to the volunteer house after a fun morning session at the village nursery school

Tell us how you got involved with Naturally Africa Volunteers.

After finishing university I secured a three month internship at one of Naturally Africa Volunteers’ projects, which works with communities in my home district. At the end of the internship, I was offered a permanent role as a translator, and was later promoted to assistant project manager.

What is an average day of work like for you?

When I’m not assisting with the project accounts, assisting the project manager in carrying out some of the project work, or creating project promotional videos, I help plan placement activities and I go with the volunteers to their morning and afternoon placements, where I help translate and sometimes take a leading role in delivering some of the planned activities.

What advice would you give to volunteers preparing to volunteer with Naturally Africa Volunteers?

They should prepare for a mind blowing volunteer experience in the warm heart of Africa, and look forward to working with a friendly, professional, and experienced project team when they arrive at the project. They should also find out more about Malawi and Africa in general beforehand.

Nursery school students in a classroom in Malawi

Playing cat and mouse with the kids at the village nursery school

Naturally Africa Volunteers aims to provide very immersive volunteer experiences in Africa. How do you go about structuring each volunteer program to make sure this happens?

In order to ensure the volunteers are fully immersed in life in Malawi, we make sure they receive a detailed orientation where we tell them about cultural differences and norms and we show them around the village and help them to understand all aspects of life here.

The volunteers are always working with local staff and work closely with people in the community. The projects all operate with full involvement from the community. We help volunteers to settle in and they feel at home here quickly.

How do you make sure volunteers are placed in the right project for them?

Before the volunteers arrive at the project, we use the information that they provide us with when booking to assign them to a specific project that is fit for them; we take their skills and experience into consideration.

What kind of support can volunteers expect to receive once in Malawi?

The project team is always there to help and assist in everything volunteers might require, be it teaching them some local language vocabularies relevant to their project work or helping them plan placements.

View of Zomba from Zomba Plateau in Malawi

The volunteers and I got a chance to go on a weekend excursion to Zomba Plateau; Zomba is the old capital of Malawi.

What makes Africa such an incredible continent for volunteering abroad?

For one, the friendly people. Volunteers also get the chance to experience life at its most basic level and the breathtaking environment, which are two of the most memorable things volunteers say they take away from their experiences in Africa.

What is the biggest highlight of Naturally Africa Volunteers’ volunteer programs?

The biggest highlight for volunteers working on our projects is knowing that they are able to improve conditions for people in the community during their time here, and being able to learn and grow from the experience.

What has been your greatest accomplishment since you began working with Naturally Africa Volunteers?

I have been involved in many aspects of running the projects here, but the one I am most proud of is my work to raise the profile of the charity and the vital work we are doing here. I create short videos for our range of volunteer programs; these videos are aimed at promoting our programs and inspiring people who may want to come to Malawi to volunteer, and after watching them these people might feel more confident to sign up for the experience. Through these videos we are able to show the world what Naturally Africa Volunteers is doing in rural Malawi. 

Bonfire on top of Nkope Hill in Malawi

Watching sunset with the volunteers and a group of village kids on top of Nkope Hill, which is roughly a five minute walk from the volunteer house

What is the most exciting part about working for Naturally Africa Volunteers?

I enjoy working for Naturally Africa Volunteers. It’s always amazing being part of the project team and I have a chance to give my input when planning a new program or strengthening an existing program. Experiencing the struggle it takes as a team in making a program successful makes us feel a real sense of achievement when things work out as well as they do.