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Excerpt from 'Malawi,A Reflection', by Marie Abbott
Category: Service Projects | By RotaryGlobal, 10-Oct-2010 | Viewed 4078  Comments 0 | Original Source
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I visit the school site and construction is happening everywhere around me. The red of the bricks contrasts against the trees and sky, this is really happening! Even though there are so many problems here, there are positive changes: individual people are making choices for the better… a group of people united for a common cause: promoting and making girls' education a reality.

Christie, one of my teachers at Pearson College, Memory, a Malawian teacher and Henry, Memory's husband have allowed me to become a part of their dream to build a private girls' secondary school, 40 km West of Lilongwe. They have an organization called Atsikana Pa Ulendo - Girls on the Move - and my goal this year, along with three other Pearson College students who travelled to Malawi with me, is to raise awareness and funds to support Atsikana Pa Ulendo. (See more details at the end of this document)

We get a tour of the school site: land donated by local village chiefs. There are more than a million bricks. Each brick has been hand made. Dirt is mixed with water. Moulds are filled with the mud and flipped over onto the ground, revealing two new bricks. They dry in the sun by day then bake in flames by night.These bricks are building a school. The man in charge of construction tells us that the first classroom and residence will be complete by January 2008.The school will open and the first 80 girls will arrive and begin class.

While in Malawi, I learned so much about education — which is why I went. But I also learned about people, about challenging myself and re-evaluating what I think and how I act. I learned about good intentions and harmful results… about taking the time to talk to someone: ask about their life… furthering my understanding and respect for differences. I learned from meeting people who are living their dream of education, who believe in something and are making it a reality for young Malawian girls.

Christie told us about a candle ceremony she did with a group of students in Malawi. Each girl held a candle, and one by one, each was lit. She told her students that education is the only thing that no one can ever take from you.You can choose to keep the knowledge you gain to yourself, or you can let your light shine and take what you know to improve your life and the lives of those around you.

My experience in Malawi was one of learning, challenge, frustration, joy and most of all, hope.There are so many problems — but there are also people who are dedicated to helping in big and small ways. Now that I'm home, I want to share the stories and the moments that made my experience what it was. I want to take the opportunities I am so lucky to have and let my light shine..
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