The official Malawian school calendar begins in September and ends in July the following year. The nursery schools (pre-schools) that are supported by Future Vision Ministries (Canada) in Malawi (Taulo & Nandolo) also break for two months annually following the same calendar. This report is intended to highlight successes achieved, challenges faced, lessons leant and opportunities to be utilized in planning for the next school calendar that begins three weeks from now. There were 423 children at Taulo Nursery School and 193 at Nandolo (Mulanje). The pictures that are in this report show the closing ceremonies at Taulo and Nandolo.
The successes are as follows:
· Provision of Likuni Phala throughout the school year. 600 children received nutritious Likuni Phala from September, 2012 to July 2013. Community members voluntarily had been preparing the meals five days in a week for the whole period.
· Children getting education throughout the year. Through the dedication of the volunteers: Ruchard, Edwin, Adolla, Chrissy and Ellena with the help of their community leaders provided pre-school education and recreation activities to the children for their health and IQ development.
· Corporation with the community. There has been high level of corporation between FVM workers and the community. The people of Nandolo were even quite exceptional in their contributions towards construction of the school building.
· Community participation (e.g. preparation of food for children).
· Absenteeism of children to school (especially Taulo). Some children just register and irregularly attend lessons. Parents need to be encouraged to be sending their children to school.
· Falling down of toilets at Taulo due to heavy rains has been a great setback in as far as nursery school operations are concerned. The community constructed a temporal one. There is immediate need to provid at least a toilet at each centre (i.e. Nandolo and Taulo). The community has already dug a pit on which to construct a toilet. It should be noted, however, that due to proneness of Taulo area to flooding and high water table, it is pertinent to construct a relatively stronger and permanent toilet. If it is agreeable, I can calculate the costs.
· Unstable economy of Malawi made prices unpredictable which rendered implementation difficult somehow.
· The corporation of the communities gives opportunity to easily bring change to the community
· The dedication of the volunteers makes work sustainable
· Community leaders are much willing to continue working with FVM
· The hearts of the people are open for expansion of interventions.
It was such a moment of excitement when we witnessed the children of less than six year from Nandolo being able to read, write and relate names to things. Ellena does a job that is beyond Malawian expectation of academic excellence.
Nandolo Nursery School graduated 8 kids to primary school. They were selected on the accounts of age and ability. As you can see below, these children are able to read and write some key words.
Special Lessons Learnt from Nandolo Community
We were privileged to attend closing ceremonies of both Taulo and Nandolo Nursery School this year. As exchange visits, Richard and Raphael (volunteer and School Committee chairperson, respectively) from Taulo were taken to Nandolo, about 90km south. Richard and Raphael were, as we are always been, amazed to see how loving and caring the Nandolo people are. They came in large numbers to witness the annual closing ceremony of the nursery school with gifts to the children, volunteer (Ellena), chief and to us as visitors. It can easily be concluded that people of the area work as a unit under their humble and quiet chief, Nandolo.
Apart from the heart-breaking generosity and dedication of the Nandolo Community as a whole, there is an old man who has difficulties in walking due to age and stroke. He braved the rain and attended the whole ceremony and gave us a gift of sugarcane. This was so challenging.
2012/13 School year can be rated as a success. There has been about 600 children who benefited from education and feeding programme. 38 of them (from Taulo and Nandolo) have graduated to Primary School with great hope that they will excel in their education due to early childhood development received through these centres. We are looking forward to impacting more lives in 2013/14 school year. The school year begins on 9th September, 2013.
“I can see hope and progress in Nandolo. You know how we felt when we received gifts from Nandolo? Ashamed and challenged.”
Peter & Susan McPhadrans, last words when they were leaving for Canada, 16 March, 2013.