We caught up with Mrs Miles to find out more about her experience:
Why did you want to be part of this project?
“I realise how fortunate I, and my children, have been and I wanted to experience what it was like to teach in Malawi. I was pleased to be able to support this fantastic charity and excited to meet my sponsored child Rachael, now in Year 10. It was such an emotional experience to meet her and her family and see her home. It was also great to experience Malawi and teach alongside my daughter, Charis who is also a teacher and to travel with my husband too.”
What was it like in Malawi?
“It was amazing! It was tiring because some of the schools we visited were over an hours’ journey down dust tracks so we had to get up early to be there for a 7.00am start, but as the sun set at 5.30/6.00pm every day, we had early nights too. I saw some incredible sunsets and enjoyed dancing with the children and the 24-hour safari trip I did in the middle our stay. We took turns to cook for the whole team of 12 and I tried carrying a bucket of water on my head (a 1/4 of a bucket to be accurate) – I was useless!
School is very different there and the teachers were so keen to see us – lessons are taught in English so they welcomed a native speaker who could help. There are up to 100 children in each class but this gets smaller as children get older, as sadly children drop out due to poverty, the need to work at home or in the fields and for early marriages and can’t attend school anymore.”
What did you teach?
“During my time there I taught children from Year 1 to Year 9 sometimes in new classrooms provided by Hope4Malawi, sometimes in old classrooms with no glass windows, just holes in the brick and some outside under trees and sitting on stones. I taught cookery – outside with a charcoal stove – teaching 30 pupils how to make scotch pancakes and the Year 9 girls taught me how to make nsima (pronounced seema), a maize corn porridge which is a part of their staple diet. I also taught English grammar, dictionary skills, RS, did assemblies (outside in front of up to 1500 children) and helped with a weekend study school”
What else did you do?
“We helped with other projects including training a teacher to use the resouces we took out with us, painting a mural on the walls, setting up a new library (I found books donated by Greenacre, Priory and other local schools!) in a new classroom block built by Hope4Malawi and met local chiefs and education officials at the opening ceremony.
We witnessed the drilling of a 60 foot borehole which was incredible, as access to water transforms lives. This borehole now has a solar pump that constantly supplies a 5,000 litre tank. Those using this borehole can now get their water using a tap rather than pumping at a hand pump. The whole system including digging cost just £15,000 which was funded by Hope4Malawi and will be transformative for those who use it
I also helped serve ‘breakfast’ on several days with phala – like a porridge fortified with vitamins. 2500 children are fed by the charity every day (many of whom would otherwise be in school all day without eating). The phala helps them concentrate in class as well as improve attendance at school. And it only costs £15 to feed a child for a year which is a small amount for a huge impact. We fed 1500 children before school one morning.”