2013-09-19 / News

Local contributions help in building science lab in Malawi

By: Tesa Gunby

Due to a desire to help the less fortunate in the developing world, I applied to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. I departed the United States in September 2006, and I was placed in the small African nation of Malawi in Southeast Africa. After a rigorous training of three months in the remote villages of the Dedza district, I was placed as a Teacher Development Facilitator and History teacher in Mtunthama, Kasungu where I lived from December 2006-November 2008.

I became very much apart of my students’ lives and the community. I worked alongside Senior Methods Advisers of the Malawi Ministry of Education. I visited schools and learned of the harsh conditions in which students learned and teachers taught. It is not like America whereby public schools are “free”. In Malawi, you must pay to attend high school. As it pertains to resources, there were usually 2 to 3 textbooks per subject with a classroom of at least 60 students. Since there were few textbooks, the students did without textbooks and the teacher became the textbook. If the teacher did not teach, then the students did not learn. In a country where the majority of the people live on less than $2 a day, you can understand the complexities of getting an education. To add to this, there were two types of schools in the country. There were the governmental schools where the high test scoring students attended and these particular schools were sponsored by the government. Then there were the Community Day Secondary Schools that were built and maintained by the local communities and received very little funding from the government.

My school had limited funds and were in need of a Science Laboratory. The closest Science Lab was approximately 15 miles away with very limited transport to get there. The modes of transport consisted of walking, bicycling, riding on the back of a big truck, or a minibus/ minivan). They had begun the construction of the science lab but building had stopped due to a lack of funds. With the understanding of poverty and belief in education as a conduit of positive change, I embarked on a campaign to assist my school to help them in the completion of the science lab.

I sent an article to the Lincoln Journal in 2008 asking would be well wishers to help me. As I looked for donations from my hometown, churches, friends, and family, I was also doing fundraisers in the local community there. Together with the donations in America and Malawi raised approximately $800. With this money, we were able to buy the timber for the roofing of the building, window panes, transport, and labor. Also, along with our efforts and donations from the United Kingdom, the science laboratory is now complete.

On a recent trip back to Malawi, I saw the finished project. I have taken photos of the before and the after. Thank you so very much for your donations. The students, faculty, and community of Mtunthama, Malawi thank you. God bless you.

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