Everyone has his or her own view of determination.
For me it’s always been Rudy, the scrappy kid who ditches the steel plant to follow his dream of Notre Dame football stardom. I mean, come on. At the end, when his whole family is there and everyone is chanting, that’s just classic. If you don’t tear up I’m pretty sure you don’t have a heart. Sean Astin, a tip of the hat to you.
For some people perseverance and determination is Mandela, King, or that guy who cut off his own arm to escape from underneath that boulder (come on, you all definitely remember).
However, it is pretty rare that one encounters that kind of person firsthand; a person who is literally putting everything they have, heart and soul, into one, singular goal.
When I arrived in Mzuzu, Malawi I admit I hadn’t done my research. I knew I was visiting a primary school called the Beehive School, and that they had encountered some trouble as of late. Aside from that, I was pretty much in the dark.
What I found when I arrived was a man who had been worked to the core, had been run ragged, and yet still was keeping his chin up. Before I even heard his story, I knew Niall Dorey had faced some tough times. He moved a bit slow, looked a bit tired, and yet seemed completely anxious to get to school the next morning.
The Beehive School was founded following Niall’s experience teaching in a local Malawian private school in the early 2000s. Faced with overcrowded classrooms, unmotivated teachers, and overall lack of proper infrastructure, Niall decided to act.
“The school I was teaching in was supposed to be the best in the Northern Region, but I thought these kids were missing out on something. I thought I could make a school that was so much better.”
Starting with eight students, and using a room of his own home, Niall Dorey officially started the Beehive School.
The school quickly grew to a massive 210 students, all decked out in their construction orange dress shirts and black ties. Classrooms and a playground were constructed, the operation expanded, and the Doreys moved into a new home. The school was even complete with a library and a computer lab. There were definitely some busy bees at Beehive, but for the Ministry of Education, the honey left a bitter taste.
Lacking proper licensing, and possessing “temporary structures” (which more often than not, were better than the facilities at local schools), Beehive was ordered to close in November 2009; this the very day they were approved for a parcel of land on which to build the permanent structures.
Unsure of what to do, feeling completely hopeless, Niall tried to negotiate with the Ministry of Education, but was met only with negativity.
Pressured by others, Beehive went to court.
While the court battle was ultimately unsuccessful, it did allow them a stay of closure. Two sessions later, however, they were closed yet again. Crushed and defeated, it seemed Beehive would simply be a dream lost by the wayside.
However, the dream still lives on. With the help of some dedicated parents, Niall was able to collect funds and hastily finish construction on one classroom block at the new site. It is simple, no frills, but it is indeed a permanent structure
They must split the school sessions--grades 1-4 in the morning, 5-6 in the afternoon. The walls are all blank, the blackboard has been painted onto the wall, and there’s a bit of condensation coming through the windows; but it’s a school, and a pretty good one at that.
If one were to have any doubt about Niall’s passion and love for these children, they need only see him at work in the classroom. Niall has had to adopt a first grade class as his own due to staff shortages, but still he puts everything he has into molding those little, at times a bit hyperactive, minds.
However, the work isn’t done. Construction on the second block is still underway, and the Dorey clan is working hard to ensure that everything about Beehive is up to code (there is quite a lot to the Malawian School Codes, just trust me, it’s pretty unbelievable).
Niall’s wife, Constance, has been a rock during the entire ordeal, single-handedly lifting bags upon bags of concrete for construction, at times acting as the brawn to Niall’s more soft-spoken nature. The two, with their three beautiful children, earn couple-of-the-year in my eyes.
While the stress may be overwhelming, and the staff members may be dwindling, I have no doubt in my mind that Niall Dorey will succeed and accomplish his ultimate goal—a proper education for Malawian children, and a beautiful school on a red clay hill.
“I’m going to build this school, no matter what. I want this school, the parents want this school, the children of Mzuzu need this school. (Niall Dorey)
Troy Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is currently an In-the-Field traveler visiting GlobalGiving projects throughout Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Follow his trip at http://troygivesglobal.tumblr.com/.
Thanks to your donations, there are already 3 girls attending secondary school that would otherwise be destined to a life on the homestead working in the fields. Studies show that the incidence of HIV decreases to 50% when a girl attends secondary school. In this way, we say that your gift of education is a life saver!! These girls were selected as part of ASAP's ongoing partnership with Catholic Relief Services - the Out of School Adolescents Project. This 3 year project began in 2007 and will assist over 1,000 girls between the ages of 12 and 17 survive and thrive in rural Zimbabwe. Because of the cholera outbreak in 2008, funding for school fees for these at-risk girls were redirected to stop the spread of this deadly disease. With your support, ASAP looks forward to giving more girls hope for the future in rural Zimbabwe very soon.
BeeHive School has been making steady progress with new construction. Constance, Niall's wife, has been indispensable and has been overseeing construction of the new school; often traveling several hours into remote villages to find the most affordable and best quality bricks.
Three wings are planned at the new site and currently the smallest wing has been completed. Please review the attached architectural drawings for a detailed look at what BeeHive has planned. Rowan Haysom, who is originally from South Africa and who is trained in sustainable buildings, designed the new school blueprints free of charge. Rowan has incorporated passive efficiency measures to optimize natural cooling of the building during hot months and designed the school buildings to have plenty of natural lighting. To learn more about Rowan Haysom, please visit:
Tensions were high for founder/director Niall Dorey and the BeeHive community when they lost in the appeals court a couple of weeks ago and the old school site was shut down for good, since the buildings do not meet basic building safety codes. For a time BeeHive was shut down with no place to hold classes.
Fortunately, the Ministry of Education sent representatives to the new school site last week and they were very pleased with the progress. It looks like BeeHive will be permitted to hold classes in the wing of the school that has just been completed, as long as they continue to make steady progress with the rest of the school. Since the new school buildings are not complete, they can only accommodate a portion of the students at a time, so there may be two sessions during the day, increasing the burden on the teachers and staff.
Niall Dorey and his family, including his parents Maureen and Stephen Dorey, have been working tirelessly to raise funds and complete construction. Many friends and generous supporters have come out of the woodwork to help BeeHive, most notably Peigi Mairi Nicholson and Back Primary School, a very small village school on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides who recently raised £500 for BeeHive School. It just goes to show how many small hands working together can accomplish something amazing. Hats off to the incredible efforts of these generous students with such big hearts!
Funding for the new roof for the school wing came through the generous support of the Rotary Club of Ceilidh who raised £1000! An press clipping of their efforts is attached.
There has also been a lot of support through our Facebook Fan Page and website. Thank you everyone for being so engaged and showing your support for Niall and the BeeHive community.
In summary, summer is finally here and BeeHive has been reveling in the good news from the Ministry of Education! BeeHive will be using the 1/3 of the school that is currently completed to hold classes in, so construction will continue Pano'A'Pango (little by little). BeeHive needs donations now more than ever to finish construction and keep the school open for as many students as possible.
Global Giving will be matching donations by 50% on June 16. This means that if you donate 50, then BeeHive gets $75. If you donate $100 then BeeHive gets $150. And if you donate $200 then BeeHive gets $300. So if you've been thinking of donating then please do it early on this June 16! Thank You!
US donors please go here:
UK donors please go here:
FULL DETAILS ON GLOBAL GIVING'S BONUS DAY BELOW:
Bonus Day starts at 12:00 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) and runs for 24 hours until 11:59 p.m. EDT (GMT-4). What time does Bonus Day start in my time zone?
* All donations made to GlobalGiving.org during this time period will be matched at 50%, up to $1,000 per person/per project.
* Check donations and donations made through GlobalGiving.co.uk will not be eligible for this match, though the funds will be applied to your project.
* The project that raises the most money and the project that recruits the most unique donations during the Bonus Day period will each get $1,000, in addition to all money raised and matched.
* There are $70,000 available in matching funds and will be allocated by the time of the donation. If funds run out during Bonus Day, donations will be applied to your project and to the Bonus totals, but will not be matched. So get your donations in early!
Lastly, you should look forward to some updates from Troy Smith, a student that will be visiting BeeHive School on behalf of Global Giving in the coming weeks.