EKARI Foundation has had a busy and exciting few months! Thirteen students from the University of Michigan College of Engineering volunteered with EKARI in Phalombe, Malawi. As part of EKARI’s Tutoring Program, the volunteers offered free small group tutoring lessons to the entire Phalombe community at the EKARI Community Building teaching English, Math, Biology, Science, and Computer Science in order to prepare students for their final high school exam. Several volunteers also assisted teachers and offered tutoring sessions after school at the local Phalombe Secondary School.
There were about 45 students from the Phalombe community who attended the tutoring sessions at EKARI’s community building, most of whom were students attending night school and whom had previously failed their final high school exam due to lack of reference materials, such as library books, and inexperienced teachers. Without EKARI’s Tutoring Program, the participating students would not have had access to small group tutoring and highly risked failing their final exam again. The University of Michigan volunteers were able to simplify the information the students needed to understand for their final exam and provide detailed explanations. Because there were several volunteers for each class, the students had more time to ask the volunteers questions and really learn. The volunteers afforded the opportunity for the Phalombe students to cover the majority of the topics in their course load, which were to be included in the final exam. Esnart, a student who participated, stated, “There are a lot of things that I benefitted from these volunteers… I understand things that I never knew before from the time I was in my school, they just explain very clearly… about physical science, right now I am able to balance equations [which I couldn’t do before]… and I know everything is possible….” EKARI Foundation also provide d all of the classroom materials including books, pencils, paper and chalk for the tutoring sessions.
In partnership with EKARI Foundation, the University of Michigan volunteers have made a true impact because the students will now have a better chance of passing their final exams; final exam scores are very important because they are part of the application process for college and trade school in Malawi. The students have asked that the University of Michigan volunteers return. EKARI’s plan is to continue this partnership on a yearly basis!
Our 3 Meals a Day Program is a crucial element of EKARI Foundation’s work in the Phalombe region of Malawi, Africa. The program provides nutritious food for students who would otherwise only get one meal from home a day. Not only does the 3 Meals a Day Program benefit our students, but it also provides employment for the community.
Two women, Lea and Modester, are examples of positive changes our 3 Meals a Day Program has made in Phalombe. EKARI employs the two women to cook lunch for our students during our programs, including our Tutoring Program. Lea has five children and Modester has four. Both were unable to complete high school because their families faced extreme poverty and could not afford to pay for school fees. With the funds that Lea and Modester receive through their part-time employment with EKARI, they are able to better provide for their family’s needs. These are able to feed their families, send their children to school, and have managed to purchase metal roof sheets to replace the grass thatched roofs on their homes – their roofs will no longer leak when it rains!
Lea and Modester have also learned about nutrition through cooking for our students for the 3 Meals a Day Program, learned about Malawi’s Six Food Groups, and how each food has its own nutrition value. They have learned how to prepare delicious snacks, including a variety of vegetables and nuts that the students can bring to school with them after the holidays.
Your support is vital to EKARI’s 3 Meals a Day Program and Tutoring Program. Without these complementary programs, students supported through EKARI would not be able to stay in school and flourish. Thanks to you, students will graduate from high school and college, becoming educated citizens in Malawi.
In 2011, Rhoda qualified for acceptance to two of the best private high schools in southern Malawi. However, as the eldest of four children, her father deceased, and her mother suffering from HIV/AIDS, Rhoda could not find support for her education from anyone in her community and turned to EKARI Foundation. Although Rhoda’s mother has since died, with support from EKARI since 2011 Rhoda is succeeding in high school and hopes to pursue a degree in the medical field.
Rhoda placed in the top of her class during her first two years of high school, but struggled during her third year due to advanced course content and negative outside influences from her community. Elias, EKARI's In-Country Director, noticed a change in Rhoda and encouraged her to work hard and take advantage of the 1:1 attention during EKARI's small group tutoring sessions. Rhoda did just that and is currently in her last year of high school and is back on track and performing well!
EKARI's students often face negative peer pressure when they are at home. In addition, community members often question the importance of our students education (EKARI is currently working to assist in changing this mindset!). Rhoda struggles greatly with this. Moreover, a majority of our students eat only one meal a day when they are at home. Fortunately, Rhoda and all students who participate in our Tutoring Program stay in EKARI's home during their school breaks so that they do not have to face this negative peer pressure and can receive proper nutrition through our 3 Meals a Day Program.
Rhoda and 24 fellow high school students supported by EKARI Foundation participated in our December tutoring session, which lasted for two weeks. Elias maintained a very strict weekday schedule for our students: studies 4:30am – 6am; breakfast 7am; class 8am – 12:30pm; lunch 1pm; studies 2pm to 4pm; supper 7pm; studies 8pm – 10pm! Although our students are on a break from school, they highly appreciate the opportunity to study in small groups with local teachers and with their peers. They only complained a minimal amount about the strict schedule! They are teenagers after all!
During the December holiday break, these students also received mentoring and career coaching from Students for Liberty, a Malawi youth-run nonprofit organization! This the second year that EKARI has partnered with Students for Liberty. The workshop took place during our Tutoring Program sessions. Students for Liberty representatives informed EKARI's students about career opportunities, goal setting, Malawi universities that have specific areas of study, university entry requirements, and which subjects to focus on in high school in order to meet specific goals. Students for Liberty informed our students that not enough jobs are being created in Malawi to keep up with the pace of university graduates - only 2000 jobs are created for over 20,000 university graduates each year. Under Students for Liberty's supervision, our students broke into small groups to brainstorm about challenges within their communities and possible entrepreneurship opportunities that could help to solve those challenges. Rhoda's group came up with the idea to start a private hospital due to the lack of healthcare facilities in the area.
Rhoda and her fellow students are now back in school and building upon the knowledge they gained in December!
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