One of our very favorite projects is happening right now in Malawi!  The Chilima Primary School is currently being built outside of Lilongwe, Malawi.  This school draws from 39 rural villages. You read that right—THIRTY-NINE.

There are many children who aren’t attending school in this area due to poverty, poor infrastructure, lack of enough classrooms, and child labor in the tobacco fields.  Many classes convene outside under the trees.  This works until the rainy season, when classes are cancelled regularly due to weather.

One of the outdoor classrooms uses this chalkboard to learn.

‍Our classrooms are already making a huge impact.  The head teacher has reported that their enrollment has already jumped by 200 students due to the excitement around the construction of new classrooms.  Goodwell Banda, our project manager there, has held several community meetings with the village chiefs from the 39 villages.

Here you can see one of the community meetings happening with the current crumbling school structure in the background.

With the construction of our classrooms, the community clears the land.  After the foundation lines are marked with chalk lines on the earth, they then dig the foundation.

Chilima community also helped unload the cement blocks from trucks for the next step in the construction process – building the initial part of the foundation walls up to roughly a foot above the ground.

Community members helping to unload the cement blocks from the truck.

Once that is completed, the foundation of the building needs to be filled with earth and compacted down to prepare for the cement.

At one of their community meetings, they came up with the plan to have each one of the 39 villages be responsible for filling a strip of the school foundation with earth.

In this video, you can see the strips of paper with each village chief and/or name written on it.

In these two videos, you can see the incredible numbers of men, women, and children who came out to fill the foundation!  There are small children, babies carried on the backs of their mothers – who are balancing buckets of dirt on their heads, men digging up earth nearby to provide the dirt for the foundation, and most of all, a sense of celebration!

This is what Coafrica is really about: empowering a community to help themselves.  Chilima is a perfect example of the incredible community engagement and excitement for the education opportunities that our classrooms provide.