A return to a lifestyle of learning
As the students settled into a comfortable rhythm of classwork and dorm living on the Kuwala campus, so too did acting Headmaster McSensio Raphael and his family. After moving into the staff house, the family connected with friends and a church in the area. Their youngest daughter in Grade 3 will be attending the Pre-School not far from Kuwala.
There was a lot of preparation to welcome the girls back, and parents were encouraged to send them to school with their masks. Education on the coronavirus is on-going. There has been a particular time designated for on-going discussion for the next while. Girls completed a questionnaire as part of their schoolwork about their thoughts and feelings regarding the pandemic, wearing a mask, and catching up on their learning. The teachers have spent time reviewing and providing support, both psychologically and academically.
Education as a lifestyle
McSensio says, “living on campus is making a difference. The Staff house becomes a gathering hub of the campus.” The Security guards have somewhere to check-in, pick up their keys, and discuss any issues. During the week, the campus closes at 5 pm, and the teachers and staff go home. Having a Staff member and family living on campus provides a comforting feeling of community and another level of security checks. If there is an emergency or the girls require help with homework, McSensio is now on site. He is also there on the weekends to ensure the extracurricular activities run smoothly. Parent visitations on the weekend are now easily coordinated.
The girls have developed a healthy respect for McSensio and his family. They appreciate seeing his family together and with them on campus. There is a perfect balance of receiving an education in the community, this is their home for the next four years.
Nurturing the body and mind
During the pandemic in Malawi, the Government recruited nurses to aid in the health care system. As schools were closing, the nurse at Kuwala decided to take that opportunity. Kuwala has since hired a new nurse, Mestina Viyuyi. She works at the school during the week; her daily activities include discussions about personal hygiene and dorm cleanliness. Malaria is a health issue, and Mestina administers iron tablets once a week to the girls. All health activity is monitored and documented for each girl. A new daily initiative called “Healthy Talks,” promotes physical, mental, and well-being taught by Mestina.
The pandemic has impacted the world. The girls study hard on their academic performance and make great strides to catch up for time lost. They have completed Form 2 exams and waiting on results. Although the Government has not authorized the return of sports activities, the girls have been taught and encouraged to focus on individual exercises to keep active.
Storytelling, a creative activity that encourages the girls to practice speaking English, was also placed on hold during the pandemic. However, Kuwala has managed to reintroduce this favourite activity with split classrooms. McSensio says the girls came to school with little or no knowledge of English, and by the end of Form 4, they will be speaking English well enough to carry on conversations.
Evaluation Day is approaching in mid-November. The parents will have the opportunity to visit the girls on campus and review their exam results with teachers. The Tri-interview is where teachers, parents, and students focus on improvements to achieve excellent results before they complete this term.
Construction continues at Kuwala. The dining hall continues to take shape with the addition of walls. While the construction crew is on-site, a new foundation for a second hostel (dorm) is being excavated and formed. To support this initiative, the business development team is actioning a “Raise the Roof” campaign for the hostel. We have estimated the construction costs to be $81,000.00 CND based on our first hostel build experience.
What does a second hostel initiative give us?
The second hostel will provide additional dorms for 60 girls (4 girls to a dorm) plus two chaperones for the hostel. This is a key component of our vision. The secondary school will have four grades represented—thirty students/form for 120 students.
Part of the marketing plan is to sponsor parts of the building and have different naming rights for the hostel and dorm rooms. The marketing piece explaining the details of the build will be ready by the 29th of October.
Sustainability and the environment
Kuwala has a deep commitment to the ecology of the land. Our vision is to plant native, drought-resistant trees. The students are continuing this work by planting seeds. The hope is to grow these iconic “acacia” trees. This species, also known as Poloya Cantha, withstands Malawi’s climate, reduces soil erosion and provides a green canopy for the school. We are healing the land by lending a helping hand.