On the border between Malawi and Zambia, forty kilometres west of the Eva Demaya Centre, is a high mountain called Mwanda. In the traditional culture of the Tumbuka people Mwanda is a holy mountain and is afforded great respect. The Malawians living at the bottom of this mountain decided eleven years ago to start their own primary school as the nearest school was too far for the children to walk to. Because of the long distance children started their education at an older age, dropped out after a while or didn’t attend school at all. Therefore some simple structures were made and volunteers were found to teach the youngest children in the community in Standards one to three, the first three years of primary education.
The school grew bigger and the number of pupils kept increasing. The community then started looking for funds to build a permanent school with solid, brick structures. Eva Demaya Centre was also approaced for assistance. It was like a miracle to the community when funds were found and the Centre informed them that one school block with two classrooms, two teachers’ houses and four improved pit latrines would be built.
The construction of the school started in July 2016 and Mrs Maggie Nundwe, an employee of the Centre, acted as the contractor. Mrs Nundwe organised the builders, carpenters and all necessary labourers. She organised the procurement, transport, storage and dispensing of all building materials. She even managed to significantly reduce transport costs of the building materials by negotiating with a supplier of building materials in Mzuzu with a branch in Katowo, which is only 12 km from Mwanda. During construction Mrs Nundwe stayed permanently at Mwanda and supervised all activities.
The community was extremely excited by the construction of the school and every day a lot of people came to help and see the progress. The community had already made enough bricks for the construction of the school. They helped with carrying sand and water and offered labour where necessary. The relationship between Maggie, the workers and the community was excellent and work went on very well.
As work had been proceeding so well and circumstances made the construction less expensive than budgeted for, it was decided to build a school block with three classrooms, three teachers’ houses, six pit latrines and renovation to the school office. The classrooms are spacious, fully cemented and with solid breezeblocks windows, providing an attractive environment for learning. The teachers’ houses are also spacious and offer perfect accommodation for the teachers.
The main construction of the school was finished within six months, just before Christmas. In January two visitors from Holland stayed at the Centre and so it was decided to open the school officially in their presence. It was a very festive occasion and even the rain that fell that day could not dampen the enthusiasm and happiness of the people.
The District Education Manager was the guest of honour during the function and he was greatly impressed by the beautiful structures of the Mwanda School. He promised that his governmental department would appoint two qualified teachers for the school as there was only one qualified teacher so far, who acts as the head teacher. The extra teachers from government have indeed been appointed and recently started working at Mwanda.
Because of the new structures at the school, Mwanda has now been made into a Full Primary School, which means that all eight years, from Standard one to Standard eight, are being taught there. This will significantly increase the number of children receiving proper primary education.
The beautiful, solid structures of Mwanda School, especially the school block, will offer the community a place to gather. So besides teaching, the classrooms will also be used for community meetings, for women or chiefs gatherings, for choir practice and for church prayers on Sunday. The nicely laid out school ground will now also be the sports field. The newly built school really has become the centre of the Mwanda community and for this the people are very proud and extremely grateful!