In picturesque Nkhotakota, Malawi, Africa -- a community of 33,000 nestled on the shores of Lake Malawi -- local children spend their free time wandering the city streets. Drawn by their bright smiles, Polish volunteer Patrycja Nabor recently introduced herself to a group of these girls and boys. Here’s what happened.
Patrycja served in the Salesian parish at Nkhotakota, where missionaries run primary and secondary schools, as well as a vocational training center attended by more than 2,700 disadvantaged students. As one of the ten poorest countries in the world, Malawi depends upon educational opportunities such as these in order to assist youth in successfully breaking the cycle of poverty. In recent years, demand for traditional and non-traditional schooling has increased to such a degree that Salesian missionaries have tripled the capacity at their schools. Patrycja and her fellow volunteers help with before- and after-school activities, homework, games and more.
Each day, she worked with the children in the program but remained curious about the little ones outside. Who were they and where did they live? One day she approached them with an idea: “Let’s go for a walk!”
“It is incredible what a simple gesture can do,” Patrycja reflects. “Inviting them to walk with me opened their hearts and encouraged them to speak about their lives, dreams and plans for the future. Reaching out to the young and staying with them was an important moment that touched their hearts -- and certainly mine, too. When you make an effort like this, you are rewarded with happiness, love and goodness.”
Although Patrycja recently completed her two months of service and will soon return home, she is sure to remain present in the hearts of her young friends. She may even have inspired them to consider attending the Salesian school. Only time will tell!
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