Volunteer Report “Another story of JOCV activity –Taxi driver-”
Name： Rina Hidaka
I am a pharmacist at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital city Lilongwe. At the beginning of my deployment in 2022, I was using a private taxi to commute from home due to concerns about COVID-19 infection. Although regulations have now been relaxed and public transport is available, I still ask the same driver to take me to work by taxi. You may think that this is not like a volunteer, but there is one reason why I am willing to pay my own money for the taxi.
This is because I want to see a growth of the taxi driver as a businessman. His name is Jonathan, 30 years old. One day, one of my friends told me that 'There is a driver who is out of work and in need of assistance’. Then I decided to ask him to help my commuting.
He had never done a proper job before that, so at the beginning, he was late more than an hour without informing me, and his attitude was something like "it's Malawi, no use to be so angry". I have grown up as a punctual Japanese and I was honestly frustrated by him. However, his nature was very kind. His friends loved him, and I thought he had the qualities of a leader. So, I trusted his character and continued to ask him to do many jobs as a driver. I had been saying things like "time is money, people trust you if you are punctual, sometimes being late is unavoidable, but if you are going to be late, just let me know", and when he was unable to do so, I repeatedly warned him and got angry with him. But at the end, I told him my true feelings that “I believe in him (as a driver).”
Gradually, he became more and more aware of me and as a driver he gradually accepted my opinion. Now, he always contacts me in advance if he is going to be more than five minutes late than the designated time. Sometimes he arranges another taxi when he cannot come for some reason. And he listens carefully to the client's opinion when negotiating the price.... He always cleans the interior of the car and whenever I ride in the back seat, he always shifts the passenger seat forward to make the riding space more comfortable and considerate. When there is a driver with bad driving manners, he sometimes blurts out things like, "He is not a good driver, it's dangerous!" I am very happy to see how he has grown, and I still enjoy driving and talking with him every day (completely from a parental point of view.)
He also shares me his dreams for the future. In the future, he would like to own his own taxi company and expand into other businesses such as cabbage and tomato growing. Starting, expanding, and maintaining a business in Malawi is no easy task, but I will invest in his work and continue to pour the spirit of Japan into him, while secretly watching for the day in the future when he becomes an entrepreneur in Malawi.
Although it is not my main volunteer work as a pharmacist, there is a lot of chance to meet people from different professions and with different dreams. I feel that this is one of the attractions of living closely to the local community as a JICA volunteer. With this article, I have introduced you to a part of my daily life. Jonathan, keep up the good work!!
Travel to Salima with Jonathan as driver. Jonathan is on the left.
Thank you for always creating a comfortable space.