Today we want to take you on a walk to a rural nursery school called Makapwa. Over 15kms from the Malawi office of Seibo, Makapwa is not easily accessible. When delivering food for the nursery’s school feeding programme we drive to a nearby area but the remaining distance must be covered on foot.
Far from the nearest city of Blantyre most of the community make their living selling vegetables or charcoal. A return trip to the city’s markets is a 30 km return journey on foot. The nursery school itself began in 2010. You can see the main building between the large Baobab trees with the feeding area structure located immediately to the left of the school.
It is the first and only nursery the Makapwa community have. At one point in the early years the nursery prepared a school meal thanks to donations from a local community member of ‘Likuni Phala’ porridge, but this was discontinued after a short while.
The nursery school you see in these images is the community’s second school re-build. Originally built by the community using burned bricks, a grass roof and a mud floor from resources sourced in the community the building constantly leaked and the original structure was eventually demolished.
The rebuilt school, as can be seen in these images, is made from the same materials so it is only a matter of time before it needs to be taken down too. While he community are committed to providing nursery care in their community they simply can’t afford more durable materials. Another rainy season and repairs will be required, or in the worst-case another re-build. We have a plan which we would like to share with you to assist the community of Makapwa. But first we want to acknowledge your generosity to date.
We at Seibo are humbled to be able to assist communities like Makapwa- thanks to you! Having a school feeding programme has not only changed the nursery school, but also the community at large. Since starting school feeding, absenteeism has dropped significantly. In addition, a lot more parents are registering their children for nursery care knowing the children will receive a hot meal. For some parents the meal of ‘Likuni Phala’ porridge is more nutritional than meals served at home.
Of course Makapwa is not without its problems. For over a year the nursery has been run by a single volunteer. With no financial reward for volunteers it was difficult to encourage people to come and help at the nursery. Recently however things have improved in this regard. When the only volunteer caregiver won a prize in the Seibo competition for caregivers, others became interested. Today the nursery school has 3 x additional caregivers of which one is a volunteer from previous years and the other two are new. Today the nursery is run by a small team of 4!
Of the 4 x volunteer caregivers only Fyness has received training in Early-Years Childcare. Jennifer previously began her training but due to becoming pregnant was not able to complete the full course. The other 2 x caregivers have no formal qualifications and no experience in childcare.
In various conversations with the village chief, community members and the volunteers it was clear that with the reopening of nurseries and the recruitment of new volunteers what was needed now was caregiver training! We agree and in collaboration with our partners at the Mother Teresa Children’s Centre in Chilomoni we plan to roll out ECD Caregiver Training from next week! The training will take place from the nearby Mlambe nursery and Seibo have invited a total of 18 x caregivers from rural nurseries to join us for comprehensive training over 64 x training days. While training will benefit the level of care made available to the children in nursery, other challenges remain.
The Makapwa Challenge
Parent’s Contributions: With over 50 children registered to attend Makapwa the community have suggested that each family contribute Mk200 monthly to support the caregivers but so far only 5 x families have responded.
Clean & Safe Water Issues: Without a community borehole, water is drawn from a shallow well dug along the side of a stream. The water is used for drinking, cooking etc. While Seibo have provided the nursery with water buckets with filters this is only a stop-gap measure. On a positive note the stream never dries up but during the rainy season the shallow well often fills with mud and the well needs to be dug over and over again before being re-used.
Lack of Teaching Resources: Having recently won a Seibo caregiver competition the school were gifted 4 x teaching charts and 7 x learning books and that is the extent of their resources. With 50 children registered for childcare a lot more resources are needed.
Why are we sharing the story and challenges of Makapwa?
Makapwa have asked for help and while many communities in Malawi could make a similar case this community have never given up. Despite all the challenges they have managed to run a nursery school far from everywhere with little to no support to date. That’s why we want to enlist your help not only to provide a daily hot meal for the little children who attend Makapwa but also to give them a New School– a permanent structure that will be theirs to keep- thanks to you!
The New Makapwa School Plan
We’ve reached out to our friends at Beehive Construction who are currently building a state of the art Primary School on the Beehive Campus. They’ve agreed to do the work for us starting August despite working to a tight deadline to have the school open for September. The structure will cost in the region of 9 million Malawian Kwacha or just under USD 11,000 or 1.2 million Japanese yen. If you think you can help or if you have an idea for a fundraising event to help Makapwa please reach out or make a donation today by clicking HERE!