My most recent trip to Malawi gave me the wonderful opportunity to see 26 “littles” start school! I was thrilled to be there and see all of them on their first day. I was able to share in their excitement about what the upcoming year would bring.
Many of these children would not have been attending school had it not been for our program. This kindergarten is the only school currently in this small fishing community. We hope that by giving these children the opportunity to start at age 5, that once they complete a year with us, their parents will be encouraged to enroll them in the local primary school. Then these kids can continue on and grow up with the education they all deserve.
With this project we not only took on building a school, but also providing the children with two healthy meals each day. Food is funded by With Change In Mind and supplemented with fresh veggies from our garden. The children are able to help grow the food that they eat each day. We also use the garden to provide a small amount of money that is saved and used for sick children, minor repairs, and more seeds for the garden!
I was able to witness so many special things while I was in Malawi this time. One of my favorites is that this school has become a kind of community meeting place. Children of all ages have started showing up when they finish at the primary and secondary school for the day. They love gathering and all are wanting to be in our building learning more! They have enjoyed the books that have been donated, the soccer balls, and really enjoyed helping out in the garden and around the school. These older children have started to become mentors for the kindergarten students. It was wonderful to see how this one building has started bringing children of all ages in the community together.
We have also seen the parents in the community come and want to be a part of what is happening. Parents of our students come a few times each week and volunteer in the classroom to help our teacher. We have a schedule and we have at least four parents attend each day. We also have many watchful eyes in the village looking out for our students, the building and the grounds around the kindergarten. Over the course of the two weeks I was there we had community leaders and parents stopping by in the middle of the day to say hello and to sit in and listen to what was being taught. Many of the adults in this community never attended school. Seeing them want to sit and listen was heart warming for me.
We created a space that was intended for a small number of kindergarten students each year. In the end it appears that we have created a place where the people come together to meet, learn, and work together for the benefit of the youngest members of their community. I can’t wait to see what we, and this community are able to accomplish over the next few years. There is so much more to be done, but I am overwhelmingly encouraged by the way things have started.
Thank you again to everyone who helped get this project to where it is today. Our organzation could never accomplish what we have without all of you!
I hope you enjoy this small selection of photos I put together. (I packed very little this trip so all photos were taken on my iPhone.)