3 December 2018

Malawi: Racism Rocks VSO Malawi - 2 UK Volunteers Expelled for Likening Locals to Dogs

Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO) Malawi has confirmed to Nyasa Times dismissing two British nationals who were in Malawi as volunteers for calling a Malawi a dog in Mzuzu.

Investigations reveal that the two dismissed volunteers (known as Thom and Arsalan) in demeaning manner, likened their Malawian colleague to a dog through their exclusive Whatsapp chat group for UK volunteers.

However, the conversation got leaked and VSO authorities got its wind thereby instituting an investigation which ultimately found the two guilty of uttering racism remarks hence handing them a dismissal.

However, this development did not go down well with some UK volunteers in Mzuzu who felt their colleagues had been unfairly dismissed.

"We have written a letter expressing our dismay at the dismissal of Thom and Arsalan, they have been treated unfairly," said a source, adding that some of the UK volunteers have since left the VSO Malawi volunteers chat group.

When contacted for a comment by Nyasa Times, VSO Country Manager Phil Thomas referred the matter to UK based VSO Global Media and Communications Manager Sean Kenny who confirmed and justified the disciplinary action.

"VSO condemns racism of all kinds and has strong anti-racism policies which staff and volunteers are expected to follow. In this case we investigated as soon as we became aware of the incident and took immediate disciplinary action," Kenny responded to Nyasa Times questionnaire.

This news comes barely a few days after some foreign volunteers angered some community members in the northern region for teaching underage children (less than 10 year olds) how to put on condoms. VSO agrees the volunteers goofed and has since apologized to the communities.

"We have very clear guidelines that volunteers should only run events that are age appropriate and culturally appropriate. Unfortunately these guidelines were broken, for which we're very sorry. We immediately apologised to local community leaders and sought their advice on how to repair any damage done," Kenny explained in an interview with Nyasa Times.

Local people in Malawi have been subjected to a great deal of racism by foreign nationals mostly in workplaces.

Government and civil society organizations are yet to comment on this VSO Racism scandal.

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