2022 “Dream Deeper” Details

2022 marks a new season for Project Kindy where you, dear supporter, enable us to dream deeper and lift the kindergartens in Malawi from surviving to thriving. 2020 and 2021 saw our successful bid to become a tax-deductible gift recipient, the growth of our Project Kindy ‘Village’, your generosity during our Wells and Classrooms Appeals and the Girls Night Out. Now we need a new, wise and sustainable strategy forward through this new season. We have discerned the best thing to do is to ‘go deep, not wide’ and improve the quality of these 11 kindergartens and refine our lean volunteer-run operations in Australia so we can continue to ensure 100% of donations reach the poor.

On Tuesday January 18, 2022, you empowered us to transfer $45 200 to the Canossian Sisters in Malawi for the kindergartens! Previously, it was achievable for us to fundraise $24 000 annually (realising only around half the $4/month kindy fees for 800 children) and this provided a very basic morning tea for the children, wages for staff and maize for the then 30 volunteers. From 2022, due to your generosity, our new annual fundraising goal is $48 000, which is the full realisation of 12 months of the $4/month/child kindy fees for our 1000 students.

Your general donations will now empower the kindergartens to thrive by providing:

  1. MORE FOOD for the children, upgrading their morning tea to a substantial lunch
  2. MORE DIGNITY for the children, providing them with special kindy t-shirts and shoes
  3. IMPROVED EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES for the children through
    • Capacity building for the teachers by training, mentoring and support
    • Increased rewards for the now 9 staff and 50 volunteers
    • Support for the mothers, the ultimate educators of the children

We, the Project Kindy Committee, are very excited to share this adventure with you and see the direct impact of your support on these 11 kindergarten communities in Nsanama, Malawi.

We would like to take this opportunity to share more deeply with you what we and the Canossian Sisters have discerned over the past several months.

Our Core Reflections

Positive relationships are the Project Kindy Committee’s most valuable resource for the success and sustainability of the kindergarten project in Malawi and our fundraising work in Australia. At the core, we admire and respect the children and their families, teachers and community leaders of our 11 kindergarten communities and we are very grateful to the Canossian Sisters for the chance to support their mission, led on the ground by the local adults. Over 10 years we have maintained a very close relationship with the Sisters which has enabled our Australian supporters to be closely connected to the work in Malawi. We are small, volunteer-run and have zero financial assets other than what we fundraise each year and so positive relationships with our Australian Village are vital to our success and sustainability.

Pathway Forward in Malawi

We feel is wisest for us to ‘go deep, not wide’ with these 11 particular remote communities in Nsanama

  • At this stage, it is best for us to strive to improve the quality in the current kindergarten projects as opposed to increase our quantity of supported kindergartens.
  • We need to operate within the capacity of the Canossian Sisters to provide the best outcomes for those we serve together.

We believe the sustainability of the project in Malawi would be most improved through the empowerment of the local teachers and mothers.

  • The teachers have been teaching for several years with NOTHING – no buildings, no resources and the smallest bit of training, amidst a life of poverty themselves. Aren’t they amazing? It is good and right to empower them with indepth training, regular mentoring and support and proper resources.
  • The mothers are the key agents of change – they are the teachers of the children for the other 20 hours of the day. The mothers are also present at the kindies each day as they wait for their kids and they’re involved for years. They are the main source of teachers and advocates for the kindergartens. As we support and resource the mums, we ensure more leaders arise and the families are supported.
  • This work is beyond the current capacity of the Canossian Sisters as they are dedicated to so many ministries there. It requires a new role of a Director who has time and resources to visit the 9 very remote kindergartens as well as a program of teacher training at the main kindergarten to be run by the more experienced teachers there.

We observed that the kindergartens not only offer food security and school readiness, but also dignity for the children and the adults.

  • One achievable way to profoundly increase the children’s experience of dignity would be to provide them with special kindy t-shirts and shoes. The Sisters trialed the shoes in one kindy in 2021 and it had such a profound impact on the community that we want to expand it to all 11 kindergartens.
  • Shirts and shoes would also be highly engaging for their families as they too feel a heightened sense of belonging to the kindergarten communities and we hope this strengthens their resolve to embrace and advocate for education even more.

Pathway Forward in Brisbane

We promise to deliver 100% of general donations to the poor so that means:

  • Only ‘Angel Givers’, those donors who intentionally choose to do so, donate to expenses.
  • We need to be lean and simple in our operations

The Committee’s Volunteer Life

  • We thought about moving to a model that incorporated some paid staff roles, but we decided it would be wisest to stay 100% volunteer-run.
  • We value the well-being of our volunteers and respect that they can only offer a limited amount of hours a week. Therefore, our operational strategies and general expectations reflect this reality.

Our Fundraising Direction

Priority 1: Provide the essentials for the running of the kindergartens

  • feed the 1000 children 1 meal each, 5 days a week, 10 months of the year
  • pay the 8 staff
  • provide monthly bags of maize for the 50 volunteers
  • provide stationery resources for the kindergartens

Priority 2: Increase the sustainability of the project in Malawi

  • build capacity in the local teachers and mothers through a new lay Director role and training
  • engage the community through the provision of dignifying special t-shirts and shoes

Priority 3: Fundraise for the construction of permanent classrooms for the final 2 villages.

  • This will complete our infrastructure projects for now because it means each of our 11 kindergarten communities will have classrooms and a well.

From the Canossian Sisters

Sr Mel, Donna, Sr Gio and Sr Imma

Priority 1: Essential Costs

    • 35 x 10kg bags of maize per month for 1000 children for 10 months.
    • Annually, your donations provide a total of 17 500 kg or 17 and a half metric tons of corn!!
    • Last year there was only 1 x 50kg bag of maize given to each kindergarten for each month and it was insufficient. This year the sisters are giving 2 or 3 bags monthly depending on the size of the kindergarten, plus sufficient amounts of sugar and salt which are very much appreciated.
    • The parents are asked to provide vegetables for the lunches to contribute to the success of the project in a way that is affordable for them. The vegetables turn the meal from morning tea “porridge” into a hearty lunch.
    • This includes the costs of delivery of the maize in trucks and the proper storage of it in the Canossian Sisters’ sheds.
    • For the 40 teachers and 10 volunteers in the remote villages, we felt it would have been good to give them something every month, just something for them, to encourage them for their dedication to the school.
    • They are all simple people, and they leave their houses, their fields, their works to take care of the kids. It is true they are volunteering, but it is demanding on their side.
    • Till now they were getting the equivalent of 4 USD at the end of the term and 10 kg of maize. We propose the equivalent of 5 USD every month, and a bag of maize when it is hunger time.
    • This is a smaller cost but it is very important for the kindergarten teachers and children to have access to learning materials.

Priority 2: Sustainability (Capacity Building & Community Engagement)

    • This is a very important activity, since none of our teachers in the remote villages are trained.
    • The idea is that every teacher from remote kindergartens comes, one-by-one, for one week of training at Bakhita Kindergarten, Nsanama. 
    • This is non-residential, and that is why there is some provision for food, since it will be the whole day, as well as stationary. We thought of helping them for transport to commute from home, since some come from very far.
  • DIRECTOR/COORDINATOR/TRAINER of teachers and mothers
    • This is a new role, but we feel it can really help a lot. We have been thinking and reflecting on it.
    • We suggest to have this person provided with a motorbike to really reach the villages even when it is raining season and the roads are very bad.  We also included maintenance, fuel, tax, helmet etc.
    • We felt this person should be engaged every week, from Monday to Friday, having a timetable and a monthly programme for the visits and the following up of the kindergarten teachers.
    • As for the programme with the mothers of the children, we feel we would like to wait and see how it works with the implementation of this role.
    • Having this Director role would take the pressure off the Sisters, however the Sisters would still be available to monitor the progress of this Director. Sisters would be responsible for choosing an appropriate lay person.
    • It seems to be a very simple and small thing, and we may take it for granted, yet for our children to have a pair of shoes is still a luxury.
    • So when we bought the plastic slippers for them with the help of Innocents Relief, and when we surprised them in their kindergartens with the shoes, it had a very great impact on the children and the parents.
    • It made them so happy, and parents appreciated the gesture. Children’s commitment to come to school increased, as well as their number.
    • We would like to be able to do this for all children who come to all kindergartens during 2022.
    • We felt we could also provide simple plastic footwear for the teachers and volunteers, as a way to make them feel cared for and appreciated.
    • It would be very good and indeed a way of boosting the schools if the children could have the special T-Shirts for the kindergartens. Malawians love uniforms for every small group or event, a T-shirt or a chitenje is created and printed.
    • Children having the T-shirt of the school, when going back home can be easily recognised. So it would definitely be extremely good.
    • We would ask to get them printed here, since in Blantyre there are many printing companies. If it is done here, there could be the advantage of time, cost, and the promotion and support of the local economy.
    • This would be a one-off event to thank teachers and volunteers and build a sense of community among them.
    • We thought it best to allow for unforeseen needs that may arise due to potential famine or the risk of COVID-19 implications.

Priority 3: Sustainability (Physical Infrastructure)

    • The current building is one room with mud bricks and a grass roof. Every time it rains the structure has to be re-built.
    • We would see it as essential to provide two classrooms and a verandah area for this kindergarten to ensure longevity.
    • For many years children gather on the verandah of the Church for kindergarten.
    • There is a great need for two classrooms and one verandah to be built to accommodate learning.

Hope this helps you and the Project Kindy Committee to understand what we see and dream together.

Be blessed

Sr. Giovanna, Sr. Modesta and Sr. Annie

You, dear supporter, are invited to join in this beautiful adventure and continue to deepen the dream to empower and raise the standard of living for these children and their communities through providing quality kindergartens.

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