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Dec 14, 2016

Tutoring Program Student Spotlight: Stella

EKARI Foundation Beneficiary - Stella
EKARI Foundation Beneficiary - Stella

For our latest report on EKARI Foundation's Tutoring Program, we are focusing on a special student of ours: Stella. Stella is from a family of six children. Both of her parents are alive, but they are subsistence farmers who cannot afford to pay for school fees or even basic necessities for their children. Stella is now a sophomore in high school. Before she attended secondary school with assistance from EKARI, she told our Malawi In-Country Director that she "struggled to understand math and English. But now, thanks to EKARI’s Tutoring Program, my comprehension is increasing."

The Tutoring Program is essential because it provides students support outside of class, especially for difficult subjects including math, English and biology. Stella was also having a hard time with biology, but after attending multiple tutoring sessions, she scored an 87 in biology.

The Tutoring Program provides critical small group and private tutoring assistance to students who are sponsored by EKARI. Typically, students do not get 1:1 attention in their classrooms because there are an average of 75 students or more per class. As one of six children in her family, Stella is grateful for the opportunities EKARI has provided her. Her goal is to become a medical doctor, and she said that her and her fellow students "can now learn to improve our communities, and that I can be a role model for my community, so others will look up to me and achieve their own goals." With EKARI’s support, Stella will continue her education.

Additionally, Stella had the chance to visit another EKARI program that supports adult literacy classes. After she saw the impact that the classes have on that village, Stella approached the directors of EKARI several times and asked that EKARI opens an adult literacy class in her village. She understands the importance of education and adamantly wants her family and community to receive an adult education.

We are so grateful to you, our supporters, who give Stella the hope she needs to thrive. EKARI Foundation cannot exist without you, and we hope that you have a joyous holiday season.

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Sep 21, 2016

Malawi's Hunger Crisis Thankfully Not Affecting EKARI Students

In the Spring of this year, Malawi declared a state of emergency and disaster due to a food shortage caused by severe droughts spreading through Malawi and much of Southern Africa. In April, the government of Malawi estimated that 2.8 million Malawians faced food insecurity, which makes Malawi the number one country affected by food insecurity and drought. Severe food insecurity outcomes are expected to persist in 24 out of the 28 districts in Malawi through March 2017, including the Phalombe District (where EKARI operates). These drought and food insecurity levels are the worst that Malawi has experienced in 35 years.

Thankfully, EKARI students are staying nourished through the 3 Meals a Day Program. Michelle, EKARI's USA Executive Director, visited Malawi in August. She verified that while EKARI's students stayed at the EKARI home in August during their school holiday, they continued to eat 3 nutritious meals and 2 snacks a day, which adhere to Malawi's 6 food groups. Jenipher, a student beneficiary of EKARI and the 3 Meals a Day Program told Michelle, "The 3 Meals a Day Program greatly improves our health and allows us to focus on our studies. We see a complete difference when we eat nutritional meals and understand the importance. Without the program, we could not focus on our studies."    

Michelle also assessed the students' satisfaction rates, and found that they are very happy with the 3 Meals a Day Program. Students ranked the program 4.5 out of 5 during assessments (meaning that they had little criticism). Sarah, a beneficiary of the Program told Michelle that "A majority of us do not want to go home during school holidays. This is not because we do not want to see our families, but it is because we feel that we will be a burden to our families. We will be another mouth to feed and this will cause additional stress to our families. Our families have very very little food and cannot feed our brothers and sisters and other family members more than one meal a day and sometimes not even the one meal. We are very grateful for the nutritional food we receive from EKARI."

If you would like to learn more about the food crisis, check out this in-depth article from The Guardian that expands on the history behind this reoccurring disaster. Thank you for donating to EKARI Foundation's 3 Meals a Day Program and allowing our beneficiaries to continue their studies by getting the proper nutrition to thrive.

Beneficiaries of EKARI's 3 Meals a Day Program
Beneficiaries of EKARI's 3 Meals a Day Program
Jun 24, 2016

Firsthand Observations from a Volunteer in Malawi

Wilson in his school uniform
Wilson in his school uniform

Hello from Malawi! My name is Carly and I am on the Board of Directors for EKARI Foundation. I had the pleasure of visiting Phalombe, Malawi in June, where EKARI operates. I was able to speak with some of the students that EKARI sponsors, as well as observe the education system and the general living conditions. I interviewed three students who have participated in EKARI’s Tutoring Program and 3 Meals a Day Program. I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak with the students who have directly benefitted from these programs. Speaking with them and actually observing the conditions here made a world of a difference to my understanding of how EKARI operates, even though I’ve been on the Board of Directors for two years! 

I spoke with Wilson, Promise and Stella who are all EKARI beneficiaries and have participated in the 3 Meals a Day Program and the Tutoring Program. They each had a unique story to tell, but they all told me about their living conditions at home. At home, all three youth said that they normally get one meal a day, usually supper. Although the students attend a school that boards students and provides meals, they told me that they get two meals a day at school, which mostly consist of vegetables and a maize (white corn) flour, porridge-texture food called nsima (pronounced en-see-ma), which is a staple of the Malawian diet. Due to poor funding from the government, the school cannot provide a wide variety of food. However, during school breaks when they stay at EKARI’s home for tutoring, EKARI provides3 meals which cover the 6 food groups recommended by the Malawi government, where the food variety is much greater, including protein from chicken and beef, plus other vegetables and fruits, and is more nutritious.

Wilson is 18, is about to finish the equivalent of his junior year at Phalombe Secondary School and is from Phalombe District. At the beginning of this school year, EKARI started sponsoring Wilson, and in September he will be a fully sponsored EKARI beneficiary. I asked Wilson about the 3 Meals a Day Program. He explained to me that at home he typically has one meal a day because his family is very poor. I asked Wilson if he could choose one thing to have to be successful, and he said that “food allows me to concentrate more on my studies, and is essential to my success.” Wilson wants to be a lawyer, and hopes to graduate from secondary school (high school) at the end of next year.

Stella is 17 and will finish her sophomore year of school at the end of June. She explained to me that “poverty in my home village of Gogodera is widespread, and people eat food to feel full, not to have a healthy body.” Thanks to the 3 Meals a Day Program, she feels full and healthy, plus she’s not worried about where her next meal is coming from. I asked how often she gets meat at home, and she told me once a year! I double checked that she actually meant only once a year, not a month or a week, and she confirmed, telling me that her family usually is able to have a chicken or goat at Christmas, but it is rare the rest of the time.

Promise is 18 years old, and is attending Phalombe Secondary School. Just finishing his sophomore year of school, he just took the JCE exam, which is supposed to gauge how the students will do in their final year exams, which is their ticket into college. Promise told me that when he has three meals from EKARI, he doesn’t take it for granted, but instead uses it as motivation to study harder since he has a full meal in his stomach. He told me that he uses food to be productive, and it also increases his attention span and he is able to focus on his work for much longer. He told me that the programs that EKARI offers, including 3 Meals a Day, Tutoring and the Library Programs have led to significant changes in his and his classmates’ future that they would not have had otherwise.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to see EKARI Foundation on the ground, and have had the chance to experience what life is like in Malawi. If you would like to learn more about other programs EKARI offers, check out our website and our blog for the latest updates.

 

Zikomo (thank you)!

 

Stella, a beneficiary of the 3 Meals a Day Program
Stella, a beneficiary of the 3 Meals a Day Program
Promise, a student at Phalombe Secondary School
Promise, a student at Phalombe Secondary School

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