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
Promise, a student at Phalombe Secondary School