Over the past couple years, Warm Heart Initiatives has partnered with WHEAMS in Malawi. WHEAMS has a few initiatives on the go, with the main project being a pre-school feeding and education program. This is the outline.
Since July 2011, WHEAMS has been implementing a pre-school education and feeding program in Thukuta Village. The main goal of this program is to have children learn and develop to their full potential, prior to entering primary school.
To date, there are 110 children in Thukuta Village that have benefited from the offer of education and nutritious porridge With support from donors both in Canada and Malawi, this program been provided at no cost to the children and their families. Cooked by family members and mothers, the nutritious porridge is showing great results, physically and socilaly. Children are said to be relating with one another in positive ways, as opposed to the first months were children would bully one another to obtain food.
The progress since the opening of the program has been very encouraging. Feedback from parents and villagers in Thukuta has been positive, with children pushing to attend the program. Children that are 5 years old are now able to hold a pencil/pen, and some can write some letters of the alphabet; and these will be considered to be able to start Standard (grade 1), when previously this has been a struggle.
Sarah and Agnes, teachers in the pre-school feeding program have remarked that the children are now more responsive to the issues than they were when the education programme started, continue to say that now the children seem to be more thoughtful: “Yes, they are now great thinkers!” exclaimed Agnes. This is evident that cognitive development is also taking place in their lives.
WHI have seen that pre-school feeding is a powerful and effective intervention that can help fight hunger. Into the future, we hope that this ongoing program can increase the human capital of the younger generations in the village and lead to sustainable economic growth and human development.
Challenges for the Education Program:
There are three major needs in the pre-school feeding program.
- Insufficient learning materials, such as books, chalkboards, and reading materials have been a major setback.
- One teacher has recently left for a government position. This leaves only one teacher to help the children learn and integrate what is taught. Replacing her position will be difficult and in the meantime, Agnes, the assistant teacher must shoulder this alone.
- A proper classroom block and kitchen are necessary for the pre-school so that when the rainy season comes, they can still have a place to meet. Construction is almost complete but more funds are needed for the final stages.
Comments from Thukuta parents
“I am impressed! My child was narrating the letters of the alphabet and days of the week. She was also able to do some simple maths. Amazing! I never knew my child would have the privilege to be educated. I only pray that WHEAMS will continue helping our children achieve their potential …”
One villager commented, “… I think the WHEAMS programme is a miracle. We have not heard of any serious sickness among the children that are attending to the WHEAMS programme. Even my boy who used to be hit by various illnesses especially during rainy season has not complained of any sickness for months… Nutritious food is a wonderful medicine ….”