I had never held a chicken before I visited Africa. I grew up in a rural area but had not had much experience with farm life. That all changed when I came to Malawi with MMM.
My fellow team members, a field officer and I headed to various villages throughout my first few days here. We traveled up and down many a bumpy road to reach the communities so desperately in need of clean water. Often times when we approached the village, there would already be a celebration taking place. The women sang and danced with such infectious joy that you got swept up in their happiness.
After time spent with the villagers and the installation of the well, a volunteer would dedicate the new well in honor of God’s love and glory that he bestowed upon the village and us. The village headman would often stand up at the end and give us a word of great appreciation for the well they’d received.
Then came the “nkukus,” or chickens. So many villages showed their appreciation for their new clean water source by giving us a small gift, often a chicken. Never having held one before, I was a bit nervous. Will it bite me? Is it clean? What if it poops on me?
But after the first couple of times that I received a chicken, those concerns evaporated. My thoughts became less about myself and more about experiencing the wonderful gratitude that these villages extended. The people in the villages had so little, yet they found something to give us. The back of our truck was filled with chickens (one even laid an egg!), groundnuts, beans, bananas, papayas, and more.
The chickens were all these villages were able to give but yet they gave with such generosity. The chickens became less about the animals themselves and more about what it represented. I embraced holding the chicken, knowing that I was holding not just a gift but one of the best displays of the gratitude of the human spirit I’ve experienced.
MMM Program Coordinator and 2013 Volunteer