In a heartwarming community-driven initiative, Lucy Jota, hailing from Mpamanda village under Village Head Maliro, Traditional Authority Mponda, serves as the Deputy Director for Chikomwe Community Based Organization (CBO). She shared her perspective on the transformation of an old shelter into a classroom at Chikomwe Primary School. This noble endeavor sought to address the pressing issue of inadequate educational infrastructure and the hardships faced by children in the school.
"The school block was once a makeshift shelter, and during the rainy season, children used to leave school earlier than expected," revealed Jota. Recognizing the need for change, Chikomwe CBO organized a meeting with local chiefs from the surrounding communities to discuss a solution. The decision was unanimous: the shelter should no longer serve as a temporary classroom. With resolute determination, the community purchased cement, bricks, and iron sheets to transform the shelter into a proper school building.
Jota further explained that community members, including those from the attending chiefs, joined forces to mobilize sand for the construction. The builders who worked on the project were volunteers from the local village who didn't seek any compensation. They believed that the new school block would play a vital role in providing quality education to the children in their community.
Fandson Biliat, a Standard 3 teacher at Chikomwe Primary School, shared his experiences as an educator. He highlighted how the presence of the old shelter created disruptions in teaching during adverse weather conditions. "Sometimes, I had to postpone classes, leading to a significant number of students missing important lessons during the rainy season. Now, with the new classroom, we can provide desks for students, and they can focus on their studies without distractions," said Biliat.
The construction of the school block was no small feat, with a total cost of approximately 3 million Malawian Kwacha. Jota explained, "This funding didn't come from any external organization or government assistance. Instead, it was a collective effort from the local villagers and Chikomwe CBO. The CBO contributed 500 thousand Malawian Kwacha, generated from selling produce from their garden, including vegetables and rice."
Rabson Sumani, the Executive Director for Chikomwe CBO, emphasized the significance of this united effort. He explained that the inspiration for this local initiative came from the MIlimo Local Capacity Building Activity, funded by USAID. The training, conducted by the Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM), focused on networking and collaboration.
"At first, we used to rely on different organizations, donors, and well-wishers to assist us with local projects. Little did we know that, as a CBO, working together with the communities surrounding us could achieve remarkable results. It was only after receiving training on networking and collaboration under the Milimo activity that our eyes were opened," shared Sumani.