Staff Spotlight: Sam Galanje

Project Manager


Sam was born and raised in the capital of Malawi, Lilongwe. After finishing school, he attended Lilongwe Technical College and became a qualified mechanic.

Sam has had opportunities to work in many roles as a mechanic and also for construction companies. His past work experience has been useful in his role as Project Manager with Naturally Africa Volunteers, especially for the building projects he has managed. He really enjoys helping to improve communities in Malawi and working with international volunteers.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My greatest achievement since joining Naturally Africa Volunteers is finding land for and supervising the construction of the educational resource centre. I have also helped to build a strong bond between the community and Naturally Africa Volunteers.

The most fulfilling part of working for Naturally Africa Volunteers is knowing we have improved the lives of people in the community in a sustainable way through education and health care.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I started to work with Naturally Africa Volunteers in May 2012 as a mechanic, driver, and translator, before working my way up to project manager.

I first met the directors of Naturally Africa Volunteers when I was working on the project vehicle in 2011, as my training background is as a motor vehicle technician. My current role allows me to use my management experience and practical skills, and I also enjoy interacting with volunteers on a daily basis.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Our volunteers always say that one of the highlights of coming to volunteer in Malawi is being immersed in a friendly and welcoming culture here. Our communities are warm and vibrant and the work that the volunteers do is greatly appreciated.

As Project Manager, I oversee the ground implementation of project activities. I supervise and provide support and advice to all volunteers at every stage of their project.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

It is difficult to say which is my favourite project placement; the pre-school programme is very popular as it allows the opportunity to work with younger children in the morning and older learners for extra-curricular activities in the afternoons. This allows people the chance to combine different interest areas.

With different activities on offer in the afternoons, volunteers have a chance to play to their strengths in sports, wildlife, arts and crafts, and extra English clubs.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

I think what sets us apart from other organisations aiming to make a difference in Africa is how well we work with the community we are there to assist.

We are focused on making the projects as beneficial as possible for the community and sustainable for the future. Many organisations that aim to make a difference in Africa are poorly managed and resources are wasted.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

We make sure our volunteer projects are sustainable by focusing on all project areas on education.

The teaching projects help to improve prospects for children in the community who will then have more opportunities to improve life for themselves and their families in the future.

On the medical side of the project, we are training local volunteers to become caregivers in their communities; once they are qualified they are able to continue to operate in their village and we are able to move on to help more people in other villages. Instead of just giving aid we are able to help people to help themselves.

We also follow through with all the projects we start; I have encountered many times organisations that set out with good ideas that lose momentum and do not end up materializing in the long term.