This year we have become involved with a charity called St Peter’s Malawi Education Trust, which has arisen from a long-term relationship that a local school (St Peter’s) has developed with a community in central Malawi. They have made many visits with schoolchildren to the Kasungu district, becoming involved in secondary and primary schools and a hospital there. Chalizya is a village with no water and basic school facilities. It’s remoteness means children often do not attend school because of the distance, or river flooding preventing their teachers from getting to the school. There were no roofs on the basic shelters so school could not take place in the rain. Existing buildings are termite-ridden and dangerously dilapidated. The school is overcrowded because there is nowhere to go once outgrown the primary; children stay on and repeat years rather than access secondary school teaching. Protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes is limited and its importance not always understood. Cultural attitudes and limited access to sanitary products mean that girls do not attend school during their periods, missing out even further.
There are many other communities just like Chimbiya – throw a stone in any direction and you’d come across another.
In 2011 a building team went out to help the villagers put roofs on four classrooms, immediately giving much better access to regular education. Preparation was undertaken and work is currently underway to drill a local borehole and to test and improve water supplies. Provision of mosquito nets and simple education in their use took place; initiatives to teach women simple ways of making re-usable sanitary products are underway.
‘Education is the key’ campaign
At Easter 2018 we intend to take out another building team to help erect, within seven days, seven new classroom structures and two teachers’ accommodation rooms. These are simple structures of steel foundations, timber frames and corrugated sheet roofs; under these the villagers will build classroom walls out of bricks handmade from fired local earth (already being made). By that time work on the borehole will be complete. More education in hygiene and malaria will be enabled.
Of particular concern to building work is the damage caused by termites; the steel feet for the frames prevents termites climbing to destroy the main timber structure. The frames erected in 2011 are proving a successful solution which is hoped to be rolled out further.
The charity has aspirations to help Chimbiya develop the tools it needs to improve the future prospect of its young children, and over time to spread that work into the wider community. The charity’s work won’t stop after next year’s build project, as they seek to share simple methodologies once proven. The charity is developing a Memorandum of Understanding with Malawi’s Ministry of Education and Science, and working with the Education Minister there.
How you can help
In order to do all this work the charity needs to raise £36,000 in the first instance, for the Easter 2018 project. We are well on the way, but I write to ask your help to meet that target.
In September I and a few running friends will be running Devon’s Coast to Coast. This is a 117 mile route starting at Wembury on the south coast and finishing at Lynmouth on the north coast. We plan to run it over 5 days, averaging about a marathon a day. The route is about 70% off road including crossing Dartmoor and Exmoor on the Two Moors Way – so that includes a lot of hills, plenty of mud, no doubt some blisters, probably some rain, plus a bit of camping and begging or borrowing of beds and food.
Our simple request is for you to sponsor us and help build the funds to ensure we have all we need in place before Easter next year. This event is one of many that are planned in the coming months. You can see more information on the charity here, along with the ‘Education is the Key’ campaign here, and the event page for the Coast to Coast run here. Please, please, donate what you can.
Longer-term funding would also be welcome to help build on this for future work. You can set up monthly donations through the same pages.
Spare our feet a thought and make those miles easier for us by helping make the charity’s work possible.