July 2nd – Education day
Today we split into two groups to visit two schools, Mseza Primary School and Zowe Community Primary School. I was on the Mseza team with Momma Pam and Anna. We arrived at the school around 7 am and the children were in rows according to their grade. The school has grades 1-6 but only 5 teachers, so one teacher has to run between two classes and teach 9 subjects in a day! That’s crazy!
Pamoza has a school breakfast program that feeds up to 1500 kids everyday. Breakfast consists of porridge which is made each morning in the school kitchen. When I say kitchen, I mean a rocket stove and a fire pit. Most Malawi kitchens are outside pits where they cook over direct flames – the build a fire with wood supported by bricks. We helped to prepare the porridge by gathering water which you have to pump from a borehole, carry the bucket of water on your head back to the kitchen and pour into a huge pot to be boiled. After it is boiling you pour in the flour and corn which they make at the Pamoza grinding mill. Later they add sugar. It reminds me of Cream of Wheat.
The kids bring their own cups or bowls or Tupperware container and spoons and they walk to school some from miles away. The kids who did not have a cup had to wait until someone else finished and then they would use the other persons cup. We also saw some kids using their finger because they did have a spoon. Some kids were sharing their cup of porridge with other siblings.
The classes do not have desks so the kids sit on the cement floor or in some classes on red dirt and rocks because the floor is not finished yet! I could not believe that. We complain about our schools but our kids have desks, chairs, pens, paper, book bags etc. Despite the conditions, the children were well behaved, disciplined and eager to learn. Many come for the porridge to make sure they get a meal but many actually want to be in school learning.
Pamoza’s programs are integrated and at 12 noon they have bible study which is part of the Christian outreach initiative. We all gathered out by this huge tree, sat on the ground and heard the word of God. This was a mixed emotion experience for me. I was delighted by some things, saddened by others, encouraged and impressed by others. I just know we have to do something to help provide more resources for these schools. Not just giving them stuff but help with capacity building and sustainable resources.
They are planning to add 7th and 8th grade to this school and they already have started on the foundation of the new building. I found it interesting that they want to expand and build two more classes and they are already short on teachers and some of the floors in the other classes are not even finished. Keep the education program in prayer!