Teacher mentoring

Malawi: Progress on a Shoe String, November 25, 2012

Anything is possible if you have clean, safe drinking water

Anything is possible if you have clean, safe drinking water

A new variety apple budded on to a local rootstock

A new variety apple budded on to a local rootstock

Duncan going on his bike to fit a new pump

Duncan going on his bike to fit a new pump

A happy woman

Mary: Creating an interest in books, everywhere she goes

Picture2

Carrying water

IMG_0418

Pumping is so easy with the Canzee pump. Ask any 4 year old!

Ecaiweni Conference on Micro Credit

Language barrier: What’s that.
Mary working with a women’s Self Help group, in their village on their plans

 

I had two contrasting contacts that made an impact on me last week. The first was an email wondering whether we had finished with Malawi, or were we still in business and the other was a contact regarding our gathering for volunteers from the past seven years in Malawi.

I suppose it’s not surprising that someone may think of our early demise, because many small organisations like us do what they can, and leave. We now spend a little less than half our lives in Mzuzu, we make no great fuss about what we do when we are at home, and our fundraising is low key and almost underground.

Early this year we revamped our board with a more formal structure and now we have Dr Ann Burnell, Professor Emeritus in Biology NUIM, as Chair, Pierce Maher, Dr Maria Corrigan, Ciarán O’Leary, acting head of the School of Computing, DIT, Kevin St, Liam Stuart, Caitriona Coyne, John Waters, Irish Times, Elaine Bolger, Roseanne Curtin, Mary and myself. Since we are a 100% voluntary organisation we have found that this arrangement lightens the load on us a bit. Voluntary, in W4Z always means no remuneration; everyone pays for travel, accommodation and all the costs of their involvement. There are no expenses of any kind or allowances paid by the charity, to anyone except the wages of our Malawi employees. We, as the founders, also pay all other expenses so that 100% of all public donations get all the way to our projects in Malawi and Zambia.

You could say that the gathering last Friday night last was our seventh Birthday, since it is seven years since we headed into the unknown, to a dot in the hills of Northern Malawi to meet a unique and amazing man: Br Aidan Clohessy, Head of St John of God Services in Mzuzu, to stay with him for two weeks and now 25 visits later we have the hospitality, wisdom, experience, advice and sound solid good sense of a Tipperary man who started from scratch, about 19 years ago, and has built up a first World Service, including a Health Science University. In typical fashion, he attributes it all to the Grace of God. In his interview with John Waters, on the night, he related; that success in Malawi began by his piggybacking on the Diocese of Mzuzu and St John’s Hospital and that W4Z have succeeded as a result of doing the same with SJOG. “It’s a good way to ensure success” he said. When asked to elaborate, he said that you must have determination and heart and W4Z is built on those virtues.

We are so happy that he came, with Provincial Br Lawrence, to cut the birthday cake (Donated by our local Superquinn). Of course he got a great welcome from all our volunteers who know him and all he has achieved in Malawi.

The various displays showed some of what we are now doing in Malawi and generated much surprise and delight, particularly for those who came to volunteer in the earlier years.

News for 2012 to date:

 

WATER: Our factory has manufactured over 450 pumps, this year and between Malawi and Zambia, we estimate that well over 100,000 villagers will have clean, safe drinking water, by year’s end. We also have a more formal training programme, in pump maintenance, for village women, who are burdened with the task of locating and hauling water on their heads, often from long distances. We are also doing trials on a new pump, a modifies version of our current one, for pumping up-hill and for filling tanks

 

PRIMARY EDUCATION: In our fourth year of teacher mentoring. Our programme now impacts over 25,000 students in two zones in the Northern region, working with the District Education Manager (DEM) and the inspectorate. It is designed and implemented by excellent practitioners from Ireland using the Malawi Curriculum and is set for rapid expansion as some top Malawian teachers have been trained to be trainers. They’ve got a little lift and they are ON-IT. For the future, the DEM and some excellent school heads are of retirement age and coming to work for us.

 

PRESCHOOLS We now support 21 rural schools, mainly by training caregivers, and showing them how to make and use locally-made teaching aids. In terms of building schools, the community must make and build bricks and do all the labour, and when the reach roof level, W4Z supply only the roofing material and 3 bags of cement for the floor. This arrangement ensures community ownership.

 

FARMING

We now have four farms.

Farm 1: Here we do research and demonstration with about 100 plants, using OP seeds, No artificial fertilizer or chemical pesticides. We save seeds and have greenhouses to produce over 10,000 fruit tree seedlings each year, and a multitude of other trees.

Farm 2: This we use to produce seeds of four tree types, all nitrogen fixing, one for nutrient extraction (Musango), one used for pest control (Tephrosia), and two fast growing for forage (Sespania and Glicidia).

This will enable us to supply these seeds to about 250 local farmers and also to a Seed Company in Lilongwe

Farm 3: This is a 3 hectare, citrus grove but it is also used for herb growing and researching forgotten African plants.

Farm 4: This is a depleted wilderness for research. A 20 year old man, Kondwani, with his wife and child will live here, improve the soil with agro-forestry, green manure, pigs, a cow, long crop rotation and conservation tillage in a planned eight year ad(venture) to see what can be achieved without  Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and the rest. We hope that this will be a model for the future

OTHER

We also have a rural birthing centre, which doubles as a health centre and a location for many and varied meetings

We support clubs for grandparents rearing grandchildren and home based care for HIV/AIDS sufferers, in the areas where we work

We have a fund for hospital medicines and baby clothes for maternity wards, in Mzuzu Central Hospital and Mzuzu Clinic. We also supply transport for the medics for their monthly clinics.

We work with secondary schools and the two third level institutions.

We have a project enabling girls to go to Secondary Schools, a few school libraries and even one on the farm.

We have Adult education programmes and one for school gardens.

We work with women’s Self Help clusters and also have a 23 acre

co-operative, commercial, model farm for women, where we work with the Ministry for Agriculture, Agroforestry and the Traditional Authorities. Here Wells for Zoë bought the land and will resell it to the women over a four year period. We bought it in April, 2012 and already 25% has been repaid ahead of schedule. This is a very new concept (shares and women’s ownership) to rural Malawi and has created much interest from many sectors.

We have a bee keeping project with almost 100 hives and a market for honey

We supported a young nursing student, who will graduate in December and come to work with us.

We have a charity shop in Smithfield run by volunteers

All this happens without taxpayers’ money or any assistance from Irish Aid, but with great help from family, friends, supporters and volunteers, always with passion and a second hand shoestring budget.

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..and her name was Katie Taylor!

Journalist On The Run

Check out this amazing video of the ‘Thai Tims’, kids from a school in Thailand, singing loud and proud about the legend that is Irish Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor.

Absolutely love these kids, such an inspiration for all.

 

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Can You help?

From Cassie:

Hello friends

here’s a good deed for the week…

While in Malawi, we worked in Zolo Zolo Secondary School. The school was sparse with few resources so we decided to fund the renovation of room into a library.

While there, we also thought creative writing to the students. Their commitment to learning was truly inspirational and their joy at gaining a library was overwhelming.

Whilst working in the school, I found out the names of their English text book. It is a book by MacMillan Education called Looking for a Rain God. It has been out of publication for 15 years, but with the kind help of the publishers, we have located 71 copies of the text book.

Now we want to send them to Malawi so the school will not have to share a book between 10 or 12 students. The cost to buy the book from the publishers and bring it to Malawi is ten euro…so now, we’re looking for 71 people to commit to buying a book and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you would like to be the proud sponsor of a book please contact Cassie at cassandra.lorraine@gmail.com

Young girl carrying water

Break the cycle: Educate girls

If there were such a girl as the average Malawian girl then this is her.

She would have a 20% chance of going to secondary school and a 10% chance of completion.
Parents often can’t afford to pay for secondary education for all their children and if there is a choice they will send boys
If a girl goes to secondary school, only half will pass their Junior year exam and 25% their MSCE (Like Leaving Cert/ A Levels)
One in 5 will give birth by 15 and half will be married at 18.
Will live in her village, have 6 children and spend her life carrying water and firewood, as well as minding kids and doing chores, have a 20% chance of getting AIDS, have no money, electricity or sanitary facilities, have a 40% chance of being malnourished, spend her time in subsistence agriculture, with little access to medical services and die by the age of 40.

In relation to Malawi, I always look on the bright side because the women I write about here are bright, cheerful, spirited, intelligent and positive. They don’t want me to pity then or give them handouts. They would like a little help to restore their dignity, but given the slightest opportunity they can lift them selves out of this life of unnecessary drudgery and become self sufficient.

We see water as the first step and food close second in terms of beginning a process, BUT without education nothing will change and here I mean the education of girls and women. If you educate a man, that’s all you get, but if you educate a woman, she educates a family and even a village, and we have seen in our studies in Salisbury Line that the amount of change is proportional to the number of years in school.
SO we are funding education for girls. They must qualify for Government Secondary school, be poor but willing to work very hard and be determined to achieve.
Here we see the possibilities for breaking the cycle as a result of confidence, attitude to education for their children, further education for themselves and influence in their community.
We are convinced that the future of Malawi can be shaped by it’s women, educated women. They know what is needed. They can certainly do it
Education makes the difference: we have seen it.

Top: Victoria carries clean water from the pump 20 metres from the kitchen: She walks 3 km to school every day and so has a chance of qualifying for secondary school.
Below is Patricia who is 18 and married, has little formal education. Her dream was to be a nurse. But now all hope of that is long gone.

295 Euros meets the bare necessities but we help the girls with growing and cooking their own food. Kitchen, toilets and showers are outside. Most come from very poor farming backgrounds and have overcome a multitude of obstacles to get there.

Malawi off track on primary education

Included to make a comment on statistics!

I only ever comment on what I see, and I have yet to see anything that might approximate to any type of decent primary education, in any village where we work. These are remote nad rural, but how can you teach up to 80 students who are sitting on a bare floor, looking at a white board, that was once black, with no chalk, no books, no copies, learning by rote from poorly or untrained teachers, who are paid one third the wage of nurses, (about €60 per month).

Contrast this with free University education, how dim can you be!!

The answer to so many issues in Malawi is good, appropriate primary education and more especially for girls. The enclosed article is more windowdressing and only shows what you can do with statistics. Get real.

Malawi off track on primary education
BY DICKSON KASHOTI
08:23:09 – 12 June 2007

Malawi is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for gender parity in primary and secondary education but off track in relation to universal primary education.

A draft report of the number of primary school age children in school and their survival to Standard 5 and adult youth literacy rate, says only a tiny fraction of those who enroll in Standard one complete primary school.

According to the draft joint programme review for 2006, which assesses the Ministry of Education, since the introduction of free primary education in 1994, the education sector has made significant progress with around 80 percent of primary age children now in school, saying gender parity has now been achieved at primary level.

“Literacy levels amongst young people have dramatically improved by 13 percent between 1998 and 2005. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. Although access at primary level is good compared to many other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region, 20 percent of primary school children are not attending school and quality continues to be low,” says the report.

The report says less than a third of children who enroll in Standard one complete primary school. Nearly a fifth of children repeat a year. Only three percent of Standard 4 students were recently assessed competent in Mathematics and English.

At secondary school level, the report says, access is poor: only 6,000 children started secondary school in 2005, saying this means only about seven percent of the children who started primary school in 2006 would have probably proceeded to secondary education.

“Quality at secondary also needs to improve: on average, 50% of secondary students fail the final exam. In addition, as the MGDs highlights, access to
tertiary education needs to expand if Malawi is to produce the professionals it needs to work, in hospitals, schools, business and government. On average, 1,300 students a year graduate from the universities of Malawi and Mzuzu,” says the report.

The report asks government to align national budgets with MGDs, saying the 2006/07 budgets were poorly aligned and this affected the quality of education.
Malawi is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for gender parity in primary and secondary education but off track in relation to universal primary education.

“Literacy levels amongst young people have dramatically improved by 13 percent between 1998 and 2005. Nevertheless, significant challenges remain. Although access at primary level is good compared to many other countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region, 20 percent of primary school children are not attending school and quality continues to be low,” says the report.

The report says less than a third of children who enroll in Standard one complete primary school. Nearly a fifth of children repeat a year. Only three percent of Standard 4 students were recently assessed competent in Mathematics and English.

At secondary school level, the report says, access is poor: only 6,000 children started secondary school in 2005, saying this means only about seven percent of the children who started primary school in 2006 would have probably proceeded to secondary education.

“Quality at secondary also needs to improve: on average, 50% of secondary students fail the final exam. In addition, as the MGDs highlights, access to tertiary education needs to expand if Malawi is to produce the professionals it needs to work, in hospitals, schools, business and government. On average, 1,300 students a year graduate from the universities of Malawi and Mzuzu,” says the report.