By Faith Kadzanja:
Eleven-Year-Old Nomsa [not real name] goes to school on an empty stomach.
“Most of the time, I fail to concentrate in class because I come to school on an empty stomach,” narrates Nomsa.
Nomsa is among thousands of Malawian children who go to school without taking any food.
Many families in Malawi live beyond the poverty line. As a result of the financial challenges, many women fail to provide basic things to their families because they are financially incapacitated.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently said cases of inequality continues to rise in Malawi as evidenced by the rise in the Gini coefficient from coefficient 0.339 to 0.461 between 2005 and 2017.
A Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income of wealth distribution of a nation’s residents and is the most commonly used measurement of inequality.
Despite being largely peaceful, Malawi ranks 170 out of 188 countries with a Human Development Index of 0.476, placing it well below the sub- Saharan average of 0.523.
Having noted the numerous economic challenges that people are facing in Malawi, young female teacher Temwa Chilenga based in Lilongwe, took the initiative to mobilise finances from well-wishers outside Malawi to help people that are in dire need of support.
Chilenga supports learners in primary schools with school uniforms, clothes, food items, school bags and notebooks. She also supports needy people in villages in the country by giving them food items.
Chilenga, a teacher at Chambu Primary School in Lilongwe, says, after noting that a good number of learners were facing challenges in school, decided to find ways of helping them.
“After arriving at this school noted that many children here lack essential things. Fortunately, the world has kind people, notably well-wishers who send me different things with which to help deserving needy learners here in Malawi. Sometimes, they send money which we use for buying basic things for learners,” she says.
And, as Nomsa has it, it is these funds and items that have ensured that she remains in school.
“I am very grateful to madam Chilenga. I used to come to school on an empty stomach but now, considering that we have been given food items, we are assured that we are going to be coming to school after taking breakfast. The good people have also helped us with soap, which means, for now, I will be taking a bath when coming to school,” Nomsa says.
Another learner at Chambu Primary School, Allan, has been going to school without any warm clothing. The winter weather made it even harder for him to concentrate on lessons. He describes the day he received a donation of warm clothes from Chilenga as a miracle day.
“I thank all the teachers at this school, more especially madam Chilenga. I used to come to school on an empty stomach but, now, at least I will be having breakfast before coming to school. I have also been given a sweater as I had no clothes that would keep me warm. I have been greatly assisted,” Allan says.
Chambu Primary School Head teacher, Agness Kaphiza, says Chilenga’s helping hand has injected a dose of motivation in learners at the school.
“Learners here lack a lot of essential things. We have an enrollment of 2,000 students here but 600 of them fail to buy essential things such as school uniforms and books.
“Since she started helping the learners, many of them have started loving school and their grades have improved,” she says.
Kaphiza’s remarks were echoed by Nyuma Banda, one of the teachers at the school.
“She has helped a lot of learners here in many ways; she has been buying school uniforms giving them food as well as helping needy people in rural areas. It is our wish that God blesses her more so that she can continue serving others,” she says.
Apparently, Chilenga is inspired by the words found in Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act”.
She read the verse and acts!