The World Food Programme estimates that malnutrition costs Malawi US$597 million a year, or 10.3% of GDP.
Education can provide a route out of poverty, but Malawi’s schools have amongst the worst teacher pupil ratios in the world. Over 70% of Malawi’s children do not progress to secondary education, because they need to help cultivate crops, care for siblings or bring in a family income.
Building in Mauwa Village in 2019
Together with Johnson & Johnson family of companies, SMBC Aviation Capital, our school partners and individual volunteers, we started the build of a community nursery school in Mauwa in May.
It will function as an Early Child Development Centre in support of the Malawi government’s aims to help more children from remote communities achieve their potential.
In Mauwa village the majority of people raise crops for their own consumption; a few people earn a living from fishing in Lake Malawi.
Chief Mauwa, seen in the picture with our Administrator Rashid, has given land to be used for the nursery school and promised his support in the form of recruiting local volunteers to help.
Starting to lay foundations
Building started in Mauwa, Mangochi District, bright and early on Monday 6th May with a green (or in this case more like brown) field site.
Fantastic progress was made on day one with 36m of foundations dug and 40,000 bricks off-loaded by the team of builders and volunteers.
We went back to buying bricks this year as the March cyclone and late rain delayed the start of the project, which didn’t allow enough time to make and dry the blocks properly. A local brick-making village sold us their whole supply for our build, which they were clearly very pleased to support.
The groups of volunteers started with a field and left the strong foundations of a structure with solid walls around a meter tall and the pit latrine was almost complete by the end of their trip.
We welcomed further volunteers following Johnson & Johnsons, including SMBC volunteers from Dublin and Hong Kong.
School groups including Verde Valley from the US and Ashville College from Harrogate, UK and some independent volunteers also contributed several days of their visits to support the work.
These groups saw the buildings taking shape and the knowledge that pre-school education will be in full swing by 2020 was a key motivator all around. The building now stands complete with only some final doors to hang and table and chairs to be made.
Behind the scenes
We employ a small team of part time contract builders and labourers to build the nursery school each year. The same builders have been hired year after year, they understand our standards and expectations allowing us to maintain quality, safe builds and a secure environment for volunteers.
The builders guide the labourers, local volunteers as well as international volunteers. We work with the village to recruit labourers, who are different people each year as they are employed from the local community. This creates employment in the village as well as a shared sense of ownership.
Meet the team
An early education for children like Mussa
In March an orphaned baby boy from Mauwa named Mussa Tabu was referred to our Mangochi infant home for immediate care and support.
He was born on 2nd February and was referred to us at four weeks old on the same day that his mother sadly passed away.
He is now 7 months old and gaining weight well on formula milk lactogen number 1. He is a healthy looking child but had problems feeding and settling initially.
He is now happy with his carers and peers and very pleased to be learning to sit with support. He is regularly visited by his granny, which keeps his family bond strong and will help his move back home when he is well enough.
Subject to his growth and development, Mussa will return to his extended family at two years old. Mussa will benefit from the early education, secure place to learn, the basic hygiene skills and social development that he will get from this nursery. These are benefits that last a life time.
We couldn’t do these projects without the support of visitors, volunteers and our partners.
Through our work we are now supporting over 5,000 children in their home communities everyday in Malawi. This sustainable development allows children and families to move beyond poverty and create a positive future for the next generation in Malawi.