New Classrooms and Girls Hostel
8th December 2017:
The Picture is 2 new classrooms with a Girls Hostel above.
In 2015, after ten years in Malawi, we made a big decision to somehow enable girls to take up their places in Government Secondary Schools. So, we wrote to Schools within a 30 Km radius of our place in Mzuzu and asked if they needed help to educate their girls. It was a huge undertaking for a small organisation, and the response was a bit overwhelming. We began with 65, last year we supported 189 girls, and this term we have 255, in our care, with the help of our wonderful, forever-friends and generous donors from all over the world.
What brought us to Malawi in the first place was the sight of little girls carrying dirty water on their heads. Now after twelve years, we are happy that well over half a million of the poorest have been enabled to access clean, safe drinking water. And this year we have manufactured and installed close to 500 pumps to add another 150,000 people to the list who never had clean water before. Because of our backgrounds, education was always going to be part of our project.
The women and girls, we work with, are born into poverty, have no rights, but have every conceivable responsibility, even as girls. They carry water on their heads when they are as young as four or five, they collect firewood, they are responsible for the growing and cooking of food, and life is hard beyond your wildest imaginings. When girls are doing those chores they are not going to school. Further challenges for girls include: traditional cultural practices, trafficking, early marriage, and childbirth complications (and the list goes on). Males are fed first, preferentially educated, and have any of the rights that exist.
Since 2007 we have worked with Preschools and Primary Schools. Now our big focus is secondary education for girls. Fees are a beginning, but books, copies, uniforms, food, hygiene and sanitary issues, present even bigger challenges.
We soon decided that we needed Saturday classes which meant we had to organise accommodation, so we converted factory space into rudimentary classrooms, hired in six of the best teachers we had worked with over the years, got seats and blackboards made and chalk of course… Now feeding the 255, without the loaves or fishes miracle, is a big issue as the girls are almost always hungry, because famine, at some level, is never far away. Then we had to organise transport as many live up to 25 km away. And finally, this year we had a month of Summer Schools. So, more transport, overnight sleeping on mats on the floor, matrons to mind them and of course tonnes of food. There was fun and physics, netball and nutrition classes, films and computers, and our lockable toilet cubicles and cold showers made it better than a 5 star hotel to them.
Now that 12 girls have completed Secondary School, what will they do next? Some have qualified for Third level, but the lack of fees will end these notions and hopes pretty quickly. Will almost all our girls eventually return to their remote rural villages, become pregnant, link up a partner and become the slaves that their mothers were? Well not exactly! They will be stronger and more confident. They will be respected for their educational achievements and have a better position in society. They will have fewer children and their children will go to school. They will insist on, and run preschools, and life will be better than that of their mothers. Sadly, they could become subsistence farmers like their parents. But our new plan is a Modular Course in Horticulture to prepare them better for their rural, agricultural way of life, where they will at least be able to feed themselves and their families and maybe do a little business.
If you can help us, then we can all have a wonderful Christmas. Every Single Euro will be greatly appreciated, make a real difference as 100% will get to the Girl Child Project in Malawi.