The school year is in full swing in Malawi and here at Miqlat we are running at full tilt to keep up with it! This is always one of our busiest seasons, but this year we have even more on our plates. The thing about a fuller plate is that there is more work to do (you have to digest all that food after all), but there is also far more to celebrate and enjoy.
MIQLAT PRIMARY SCHOOL, COMMENCE!
One September 12th, 2016, the Miqlat Primary School at Kogoya Hope Center officially opened its doors. 76 of Miqlat's sponsored kids now spend their full day at the center. Our students have begun in two combination classes, together covering Standard 2-5 (2nd-5th grade). Even more than in a standard combination class, our kids vary greatly in age and learning ability thanks to the inconsistency of their prior education. Though school attendance is mandatory for all kids in the Miqlat sponsorship program, because our children live all across the catchment area and attend different schools, there has been little way to truly enforce this educational standard until now. And, unfortunately, the underfunded and overburdened schools around Kogoya and Thuchila do not offer the most enticing of activities to fill a child's day.
With the opening of the Miqlat school, that has changed.
Last week at a meeting for the guardians of our school children, one mother reported that the son she used to have to personally chase to school now wakes up early each morning, demanding a quick and thorough bath for cleanliness and then running himself off to school to ensure he is one of the first in line. Now, this may have something to do with the delicious, rich porridge that is served before school and denied to tardy students, but Stanley can also be found actively engaged in his classes and even spied out finishing exercises on his recess break. As this mother told the story of her changed son, women around the room chorused agreement and affirmed similar experiences.
The Miqlat school day begins with likuni phala (porridge) served from 7:30 to 7:50. At 8:00 sharp, the bell is rung and the two classes begin an alternating schedule of literacy. An interlocking schedule enables Ethel, Samson, and Lucius (the facilitators and new teaching assistants) to travel between the classes during morning reading hours. Their help allows the students to split into ability-based groups of no more than ten students, each with their own books in their hands. As the students have responded enthusiastically to the personal attention and the new form of interactive teaching becomes more familiar, more smiles break out in the classrooms. The morning concludes with math and lunch. In the afternoon, the schedule varies to allow the students to engage with subjects including social studies, science, agriculture, Bible knowledge and religious studies, PE and expressive arts.
Our students are unbelievably proud of their new learning, reluctant to return books and eager to test themselves answering content based questions even as they unwind with a wild game of Uno after class is over.
THUCHILA HOPE CENTER: UPPING THE GAME FOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS
As more of our kids grow and pass out of primary school each year, our Directors are always on the hunt for the best way to move our students through secondary school, which is neither free nor completely open in Malawi. Over the last two years, one particular private school near Thuchila has proved itself to be an affordable hub of success for our students, so much so that this year we have even sent 8 of Kogoya's struggling secondary students over to Widzo Secondary School. Sending our kids to this school is an investment in their futures and a demonstration of our trust and belief in them.
In accordance, Victor, Thuchila's Director, has decided that this year the Hope Center will increase its own involvement in the educational success of these higher learning level children. Beginning this month, the 39 Thuchila students and 8 Kogoya students will also begin a mandatory Saturday School tutoring program at the Hope Center designed to augment the learning in their classes and promote their eventual success on the Malawi School Certificate of Education Exam (which functionally doubles as our high school exit exam and the SAT.) This Saturday school is intended to close any gaps in their fundamentals and provide space for extra practice and help on what they are currently learning. Though tutoring isn't quite as fun as a full day of Frisbee, board games, and activities, the option to continue into college is dependent on MSCE success and most of our kids find a few hours of extra tutoring a good sacrifice to make towards that goal.
This year, we are excited to cheer on our first three tertiary school graduates. Patricia, who studied tourism and hospitality, has just begun her new job working at the Nali Hotel in Luchenza, while Annie and Nora, our two nursing school graduates, buckle down and study for their government licensing exams. Their successes motivate our current college students and even put a fire in our secondary school students as they offer a glimpse of what can be and who they can be with some attentiveness and drive. We anticipate growing numbers of celebratory announcements each year from now!
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: $20 TO TREAT YOUR CHILD
Believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner! Would you give an extra gift to your sponsor child this month? $20 from you will enable us to gift your child and their family with a brand-new blanket and a much needed food supplement in December, when the country will be entering the hungriest part of the year just before the harvest season. Though it may not seem as fun as a brightly wrapped package, this gift will be a tangible expression of love. $20 will provide a gift for your child, but would you consider giving more to enable us to bless more children and families? A Christmas present of $100 will give gifts to five families! Would you consider challenging yourself this Christmas to bless some families far away? Thank you!
If you write a check each month to pay for your regular sponsorship, feel free to simply add the Christmas Gift amount to your check (making a note on the note: line). Otherwise, you can address an individual Christmas Gift check to Miqlat, Inc. and send to 1850 Lake Morena Dr. Campo, CA 91906.