The meeting gathered all students from Taulo who benefit from school support programme by Future Vision Ministries. The total number of students who get assistance is 50. More than 80% come from Taulo, FVM’s working area. The objective of the meeting was:
- to encourage the beneficiaries to concentrate in their education
- to implore the beneficiaries to be attending Student Christian Organisation of Malawi’s (SCOM) activities since FVM is working in partnership with the group on part of pastoral care in secondary schools and colleges
- to hear from the beneficiaries the challenges and success stories in their studies
- since most of them are orphans and poor, it was a time of fellowship and socializing thereby giving them hope that there are still friends apart from God Himself
- to provide an opportunity for them to interact and know each other
- to have a career talk with them because most Malawians go to school without actually having vision of their career. It pains when someone benefits from the scholarship fund but has no vision of what they want to become
- to let them know Future Vision Ministries and how and why it came to their help
- to show appreciation for their welcoming heart in utilizing the resources given to them in form of school fees
- Many beneficiaries didn’t know what FVM was. Some of them thought or were wrongly informed by the grapevines that their school fees was coming from Malawi Government through Future Vision Ministries (CA)
- 90% of these beneficiaries travel long distances (average 7km) to school on daily basis often on empty stomach. Such long distances with hunger makes them (especially girls) prone to loss in interest and may lead to dropout from school
- Lack of basic necessities (such as food, soap, lotion, shoes, clothes, books and other writing materials) also contributes to problems in their education
- Lack of transport to & from school makes them absent from classes especially in rainy season and during summer when it is terribly hot
- Lack of parental care. Most confessed that their parents have no or very minimal interest on their education. One of the most contributing factors is that many of them come from either broken families or are under parental care of step-fathers. Due to matrimonial marriage system (where the husband leaves his home and stays at his wife’s home) husbands feel insecure that any time the marriage can break up and will lose everything including children hence they think it leads to loss. The children’s uncles have full responsibility on their sisters’ children.
- Many beneficiaries did not know much of SCOM. They appreciated for the information
FVM bought a piece of land in 2010 for Taulo Nursery School where volunteers and villagers work on and produce maize and soy beans which is used to feed the children (at times). The community uses some of the proceeds from the harvest during meetings such as Bible Study and trainings. It is the same maize (corn) that is used to feeding the visitors when they visit the area. This is considered more sustainable because it fully involves the community. The community now owns the garden activities and they plan whatever they want to do with the garden.
This year, in addition to the usual garden, FVM rented the other piece of garden which was destroyed by the floods.
“Anthu amanena kuti ife timayika foteleza wa ku Canada nchifukwa chake timakola chochuluka chonchi (People think that we use Canadian fertilizer thus we have high yield) ” said the volunteers. The statement shows that the villagers have wrong mindset that what comes from abroad is (always) better than local products. However, this garden is a lesson to them and most villagers including volunteers have made a point to follow the farming practices taking place at this garden. About 1000kg of corn has been harvested this year.
The meeting with the students that benefit from the school fees helped the FVM office understand the psychosocial needs that are supposed to be alleviated gradually for the beneficiaries to effectively utilize the assistance rendered to them.
The produce from the communal garden shows unveils potential that if more investment is made towards the same (for example every village that surrounds the nursery school should have one communal garden), it would lead sustainability as community members will be fully taken on board to own the projects taking place in their community.