About The Malawi Schools ProjectThe Malawi Schools Project (MSP) is a small UK-based charity which devises and finances crucial projects to enable children to access education in Mpasa, in the Phalombe district of Southern Malawi.
The children in our area are bright and keen to learn, but many of them are unable to go to school, either because they cannot afford it, or because the facilities are too limited. Much of the money MSP raises goes to pay school and examination fees, buy uniforms, exercise books and school supplies, provide solar lamps for the children to study at home, and to improve classrooms and schools. We have also made some headway in improving teacher and head teacher training in the area, to help the children get more from their time at school. Most recently we have been involved in providing books for a series of experimental reading circles and a small children's library.
Set up in 2016 by a retired British barrister and immigration judge, Averil Sessions, MSP is now recognised by the Charity Commission and has a board of 6 trustees. All the funds it raises are spent directly on projects in Malawi. We charge no overheads, and work only through trusted local suppliers.
Where it all beganIn spring 2016, Averil visited Mpasa to work as a volunteer for the Swedish charity, Afrogarden, teaching English to young teenagers. Afrogarden has operated across an area of 17 villages in the Mpasa area for almost 10 years. With the charity's help, over 250 "kitchen gardens" have been established, providing families with fruits and vegetables to help diversify their diets, and provide food when the staple maize crop fails.
|Stella with some of the passion fruit grown in the family's kitchen garden|
Sadly, few other aid agencies offer help in the Mpasa area. There are few places with running water or electricity, no hotels or restaurants, no western-style houses. Few if any of those who occasionally pass through the area in aid agency trucks actually stay.
|A bag made by a lady in one of the income-generating projects|
Education in MpasaMalawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is a peaceful country, with a fully functioning democracy, but it has few natural resources and many of the villages have no power, and no running water. Its people are its real treasure - and they are delightful: warm, cheerful, hard-working, intelligent. I stay with a wonderful local family when I go there. The father is a carpenter, roofer and pastor: there is a constant stream of people in need coming to his door for help or advice. They have 4 children, all very bright, and 4 foster children, and of course there is a permanent melee of the children of friends and neighbours playing around the house.
The lovely family I stay with
English is the country's official language and is widely spoken - with varying degrees of proficiency - by those who have completed primary school education. There are some excellent teachers (though too few of them), and the children are bright, but for many of them education is an impossibility. They need money for school fees, uniforms (or decent clothes to go to school), exercise books and pens, and light to enable them to study at home. And in a country plagued in recent years by drought and food shortages, families spend every last penny they have on food, leaving little or nothing for their children's education. Apart from basic food support from the World Food Organisation, and rare (and seemingly fleeting) interventions from the likes of UNICEF, DFID and CAMFED, international aid has not reached the children in these villages. Without education, countries like Malawi will remain mired in poverty. I believe the spread of education is the only way to give these children a chance for a better future, and the country a better prospect for growth.
|Delivering cement to Mpasa Primary School, January 2017|
I now spend a substantial part of my time fundraising, researching ways of providing assistance to the Mpasa community, and communicating with contacts on the ground about the projects MSP is funding.
See School Building, Back to School and School Fees for information on some of the specific projects we have been supporting.