Progress on the walls, exterior and interior was swift today. Those comfortable up high, continued to work on the scaffolding (me), others choose jobs lower to the ground. We are working well with our Malawian builders and homeowners. Our Chichewa is improving and we can now add pleasantries to our calls for bricks, motor and water.
Our day began with a visit to the local primary school. The concentration of children is astounding. We were greeted by a dozen children and the crowd quickly swelled to hundreds! We met with the principal and toured 2 different classrooms. The 3rd ‘form’ (grade) classroom held 175 children. There are 203 enrolled. They are taught while sitting on a dirt floor, shoulder to shoulder with no light except what filters through the open windows. They work in groups of 10-15 per text book. We had the opportunity to ask the children questions about their future career choices: aspirations included teacher, nurse and builder. Most children stop their education at the 5th or 6th grade. Some go onto secondary school. A VERY few can go to university. This school no longer provides meal to its students because government and donor funds have dried up. Some children and parents have decided that it is better to be hungry at home than at school, so attendance has dropped.
After the school, we went to a local microbusiness in the village. A small group of women run a bakery. Basically a small room, with a store front window with a 2 tray wood fired oven in the rear. There they bake rolls and sell to the community. I purchase 20 rolls for our team at a cost of about $1.25.
The children are now our friends. They come to seek us out and engage us in their play. To our repertoire we added jump rope and soccer. However, among the younger group Baka, Baka Goose is still a favorite. We are no longer looked at tentatively. We a waved at and smiled at upon entering and leaving the village by most. The children are no longer just a sea for dark faces, but each child and their personality are beginning to show to me.
At the end of workday we walked to the local Community Based Organization (CBO). This government mandated organization is staffed by people elected by the participating villages as representatives. It is a volunteer leadership position. They provide community based child care (CBCC) and monitor the health and welfare of those living in their villages They provide the link to Habitat to find our partner families.
At both the school and the CBO, the leadership was keen to provide us with lists of what physical items they need to provide their services. Their only funding is government grants and donations from charitable people and organizations. A little bit goes a long way.
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