by E Ella Graham
Ended on November 21st 2017
In 2016, Zita and I spent four months volunteering as teachers in Malawi. Malawi is a landlocked country in Eastern Africa, and has one of the world’s poorest economies. But despite this impoverishment, Malawi proudly holds the title of the Warm Heart of Africa. The moment we stepped foot in the village we were welcomed with open arms. People with so little to give did not hesitate in sharing all of what they had. It was so easy to fall in love with this beautiful country and its people, and in return we would like to share a little bit of the privilege we, as Australians, have.
Chimbowe Primary School is made up of over 1000 students, ranging from Standards (years) 1- 8. With only 11 teachers employed to manage the school, the student to teacher ratio is approximately 1 : 100. The teachers are overworked and underpaid, and there are not enough resources to go around. I have kept in contact with many of my friends and colleagues in Chimbowe and together we have identified areas which are in urgent need of support. Help us provide items students all over Australia take for granted; pens, paper, and a desk to sit at.
Simple tools such as chalk and dusters are limited, and many students cannot afford the pens and books they need to help them learn. $150 will provide pens and exercise books to the students who need it most, and supply much needed chalk and dusters. Students must pass an end of year exam to advance to the next year level, and pens and paper are the only tools students have for learning and revision.
Classrooms are constructed from brick, tin and concrete. Each room is packed with students, with class sizes ranging from 60 – 110. The floors the children sit on are cracked, crumbling and in urgent need of repair. $200 will buy concrete and employ a local worker to fix the floors.
Due to a lack of desks, many students are forced to sit on the floor for hours at a time. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, but it is a distraction to their learning. Simply having a desk to sit at, gets the students off the ground and gives them a more supportive learning environment. Just $55 dollars has the power to provide 2-3 students with a desk to sit at. $2200 will pick a class of 80+ students off the ground. Delivery will cost approximately $300 (although this will depend on negotiations on the day).
Chimbowe Primary School has a high orphan population. Uniforms are $15 each, and for orphanages this cost is simply impossible. Uniforms are mandatory, and sometimes students are sent home for failing to wearing them. $525 will provide school uniforms to Chimbowe’s orphans (20 girls and 15 boys).
Malawian’s love sport! Balls are generally made from recycled materials such as plastic bags and string. However, a few precious sports balls are kept for the school’s weekly football (soccer) and netball competition against surrounding schools and villages. The students play bare foot, and without any sort of team identification. Donations of balls are needed to replace the damaged ones. I will be approaching sports stores, however, message me if you are willing to donate any items!
They money will be prioritised in case the target is not reached, so the most important projects will be funded first. However, if there is any money left over, it will go towards more pens and exercise books, and repairs towards the roofs of the teacher’s houses. I will spend six weeks in Chimbowe in January and February of 2018 to help manage and implement each of these projects. I will give progress reports and upload photos upon completion! Thank you very much for reading this far, your kind donations are very much needed and have the power to improve education at Chimbowe Primary School.
Cost of the projects:
Furnish one classroom with desks: $2200
Transport of desks: $300
Floor maintenance: $200
Exercise books and pens: $150
School uniforms for orphans: $525