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Seeking Donations for Sustainable Classroom at Chilala, Malawi

We are helping to collect funds to build a sustainable classroom for one of our best performing schools in Malawi. The classroom will be built with mud and thatch technologies that are easy to maintain (to look like the picture here). The funds will pay for a team of builder-trainers to come to the school for a week to work with the school community to build the new classroom.

I visited the school with the Ministry of Education and Agriculture last week and we gave the school a score of 93 percent for School Health and Nutrition (SHN) performance – the only school we’ve ever given such a high score in the short time that the School Health and Nutrition programme has been running. We were amazed at their progress. Below you can read a bit of background and some specific details about the school project.

We need to raise 100,000 mk (approximately 700 USD) which means finding 10 people to contribute 10,000 (70 dollars) or 20 people to contribute 5,000 dollars (35 dollars). We already have five people that have donated locally and so are US$147 closer to our goal! If you are able to contribute, we now have a PayPal system in place as well as other methods to send donations. You can click on this link to visit our Never Ending Food donations page to make a contribution.

Background from the SHN Technical Advisor: My name is Caroline Wilkins, and I have been working with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Nkhata-Bay, Malawi for the last several years, and for the last year and a half was based at the District Education office. I was connected to the School Health & Nutrition (SHN) programme. One strong element of my work was concerned with developing school grounds into productive, educational and pleasant environments. I am a Permaculture Trainer, and use the concepts and principles of this practice, to help schools achieve it. Permaculture promotes the use of locally available resources, and is very low input. For example we promote the production of local/indigenous food and medicine crops, and we promote the use of "composting toilets" which provides a free and abundant source of compost manure that can be locally/cheaply made and are more hygienic than existing designs/systems. We also promote building classrooms, using low cost, locally available resources — as opposed to the K1.5 million (US$10,000) school blocks that are currently built which require cement to be harvested from our mountains and bricks which require many trees to be cut for burning. With a rapidly growing population, the need for more classrooms far outweighs the district’s ability to build them. In the area where I’ve been working, only 7% of primary schools have enough classrooms for their enrolment.

Chilala Primary School is a fantastic example of what schools can achieve with permaculture. The school produces abundant supplies of fruit, grows staple crops, natural medicines and some vegetables. The standards of sanitation & hygiene are very high, the grounds are clean and beautiful, and the pupils’ knowledge of health, nutrition and food production is above average. Last year the school/community obtained some funds, and decided to build a new classroom, using locally available resources as much as possible. I involved the services of Guy Pickering and his skilled team of natural builders/thatchers. All went well at first, the body of the building went up, followed a few months later, by the thatch. Unfortunately a huge storm hit before the roof was completed, and a combination of strong winds, lots of water and uneven weight, collapsed the building. It was also the end of our available funds. Since December, the salvaged grass has been stored in one of the two permanent classrooms, making their classroom situation worse than when we started! I have been trying to raise the funds needed to re-build and thatch the classroom as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your consideration if you are able. Again, you can click on this link to visit our Never Ending Food donations page to make a contribution.

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