Global Sponsorship Operations Manager, Save the Children
Thursday, September 30, 2010
At the end of Kathryn's first post she was leaving a child-care center in Malawi supported by sponsors like you and administered by Save the Children.
We rush off to a nearby primary school that holds more than 2,000 children to catch the 1st-3rd-graders in the St. Martin district before their day ends. There are half a dozen one-story brick buildings on a barren piece of flat sandy property. The teachers are inspiring and the children are engaged and enjoying their studies. After visiting a sixth grade class, I sit outside the head master’s office. More than 20 kids crowd around me, wondering where I come from, staring at me, and waiting for me to take their picture. They scream as soon as they hear “click,” and retreat. Moments later they inch closer and closer until they get another “click” out of me.
Students gather under a tree for "Reading Camp"
Our last stop is the Literacy Boost “Reading Camp,” a voluntary after-school program where children in grades 1-5 practice reading and play word and alphabet games. When we arrive they are reading together, playing and having fun with locally-made materials. The volunteer facilitators are great at keeping the children (who have already attended a full day of school) engaged and interested. They read a book with lots of “L” words, then discuss names with the letter L and draw names and words with L in the sand with their fingers. The Malawian music blasting from a nearby house and what looks like a 200-pound, gray pig wandering about makes the atmosphere cheery and comfortable.
A teacher poses with his students
I am inspired by the passion of the volunteers, teachers, and caregivers, and encouraged by the smiles on the faces of the children. In this region, where many parents cannot read, they are compelled to send their children to get the best education they possibly can through the early learning centers, schools, and reading camps that Save the Children supports.
I will leave Malawi comforted by the smoky scent and vibrant cloths, and most of all, the sparkle in the smiles of the children.
All Photos Courtesy of Kathryn Koonce
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