Volunteering Reveals How Tough Life Can Be

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VMM International Teacher Training Volunteering

VMM International long term volunteer Marian Kearney returned to Malawi last year, a country that she loves, to manage a teacher training, capacity building project with our partner organisation, N4BW (Network For a Better World), in Sitima. Marian was kind enough to share her blog with us. These are her thoughts, in her words.

A Tough Tale

This is the true story of a 13 year old girl – for the purpose of this story I shall call her Madelitso.

Madelitso was only 6 months old when her mother died following a serious bout of shingles. Her father continued to care for her but before her third birthday, he himself was so ill that he was forced to place her in an orphanage, as he didn’t have the strength to look after her any longer. Sadly, he also died when Madelitso was just 3 years of age.

She stayed at the orphanage until her maternal uncle and aunt were in a position to bring her into their home where she lived happily for a further six years. Unfortunately, within months of each other they too died. Madelitso was 10.

At that point, her mother’s youngest sister had married and she brought Madelitso to live with her and her husband. They have since had two children of their own.

Education Builds the Capacity to Change Lives

Now despite all this sadness and hardship Madelitso has made great strides and has far exceeded expectations, her academic successes leading to her jumping a couple of years at primary school and eventually being selected for secondary school when she was only 11 years old. (in Malawi children are normally 14 before they leave primary school). That year Madelitso was one of two pupils from a year group of 70 to be accepted into secondary school and she is now in Form 2 at a state boarding school.

Another Twist in the Tale

Regrettably, her continued education has been threatened as paying the school fees has put a strain on her maternal extended family who struggle to collectively find the £100 fees per term.  In February, this year Madelitso was asked to leave school as the family had only been able to gather £20. Since then a donor has contributed another £20 and school has taken her back with the proviso that the outstanding £60 is paid.

Madelitso is a gifted and intelligent girl who (realistically) dreams of becoming a lawyer. Her extended family love her very much but are quite poor and struggle to make ends meet. It is becoming increasingly clear that this young girl, because of where she lives and the hand that life has dealt her will never get the chance to fulfil her ambition

How Tough Can Life Be?

Notes about education in Malawi:

  1. Primary education is free but not compulsory
  2. Children start school aged 6 and stay there for eight years providing they pass end of year exams. If they don’t pass they are required to repeat that year.
  3. All secondary education is fee paying

Tales of Resilience Building in the Face of Difficult Circumstances

Marian’s insight into Madelitso’s tale underlines how there is still much to do in sharing who we are, not just what we have to build a way with all, for all out of such tough circumstances and hardship towards the UN SDGs and a world where we live in the shelter of each other. Click the links to see more stories from Marian check out her blog or to read more blogs from other volunteers wthi different VMM International partner projects, to learn more about volunteer opportunities and to donate. Keep up to date with the latest news by following us on Facebook: @VMMInternational, Twitter: @VMM_Int.

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