My stay in Phalombe (July 2010)
Within only a few days of staying with Elias and Grace at their home in Phalombe, Malawi, Africa, I realized how minor a role I play in the EKARI Foundation. Elias and Grace’s home is not only constantly filled with students and family members coming and going, but more importantly their home is overflowing with so much joy, happiness, smiles, chatter, and laughter. Each day I observed and was very humbled to witness all Elias and Grace do for the students. Students are free to come and go from Elias and Grace’s home as often as they please. Elias and Grace provide the students with guidance, care, encouragement, love, and hope that the students are not always able to find in their own homes. Through several chats, I have come to understand that Elias and Grace both have pasts filled with poverty and many hardships, but their determination and strength has allowed them to overcome overwhelming obstacles. They both explained that this is why they assist so many students; so the students do not have to experience what they went through. With much grace and no expectation of anything in return, Elias and Grace both set an amazing example for the students showing how hard work and perseverance can offer a chance for a brighter future. Elias and Grace are ‘poor’ by the standards of this world, but are ‘rich’ in those things most important in life.
Sponsor a Student Program
In order to encourage our EKARI Foundation students to work hard and succeed in school, we have created an incentive program. At the end of each school year, each qualifying student will receive a small monetary gift based on their exam results, grades and/or standing in class. The Incentive Program has also been implemented to motivate our students to pass each grade successfully the first time. If a student fails, he/she will be placed on probation and will be offered only one chance to repeat each grade. Upon second failure, the student will no longer receive assistance from the EKARI Foundation.
To further develop our Sponsor a Student Program, we have created an application process for acceptance into the EKARI Foundation. Our first step will be to consult a school’s head master for his/her recommendation of needy/orphan students. Next, potential students will be evaluated based on family history, available assistance, and performance in school. Potential students will be required to complete an application and submit two references as well as his/her latest report card. Finally, each student will be asked to schedule a home visit where we will meet with his/her family.
Our current male/female ratio is approximately 60%/40%. Our goal is to achieve and maintain a 50/50 ratio. Therefore, as we add more students in the future, we will add females to obtain the 50/50 goal.
EXCITING NEWS!! The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation recently contacted the EKARI Foundation and would like to contribute funds to support a female student’s education!! We are in the process of submitting information to the Circle of Sisterhood regarding Rebecca (left). Rebecca currently works in Elias and Grace’s shop in Phalombe’s market. Rebecca has completed her high school education and would like to continue onto university.
Micro Lending Program
After speaking with Elias and the women during my visit in July, I noted that $150 did not provide ample funds to start a productive business. Therefore, each woman has received an additional $50 for a total loan of $200.
Knowing the basics of running a business is the key to success for our entrepreneurs. Elias has therefore asked Mrs. Gwanda, a close family friend and strong business woman, to conduct a seminar on the basics of business for our five current entrepreneurs. Future entrepreneurs will be required to participate in this seminar prior to receiving a micro loan.
With a generous donation from one of our sponsors, Elias was able to purchase several study books for our students! With a small amount of leftover funds, Elias had a bookshelf made. The books will be housed on the new shelf within Elias and Grace’s home! The books were presented to the students at Michelle’s farewell party from Phalombe. The students were very grateful and excited to receive the books!