In March of 2015, the long awaited completion of our project in Phalombe, Malawi was finished and we were recently able to catch up with our partners the Ekari Foundation to see how things have been going! The Ekari Foundation strives to empower the future generations of Malawi to emerge from poverty through their own efforts. This is accomplished by providing access to quality and relevant education, coupled with the necessary educational resources and training to assist communities in establishing and celebrating sustainable livelihoods. Progressing towards student self dependency, the Ekari Foundation is working to create empowered communities, leading self-sustaining lives filled with dignity and self-worth; thus, adults and youth no longer need or want EKARI Foundation’s support. Here are some recaps of the recent programs offered at the Community Building CfC and Ekari partnered with to create.

We are happy to announce that the building has been a hub of activity and has greatly benefitted the Phalombe community through engaging programs and opportunities for local organizations to conduct business in their offices. The Malawi team moved into the building in early March following the projects completion. At the same time, two office tenants also moved in and they have been able to successfully keep both offices filled since its opening. Also, the Community Building has hosted anywhere from six to twelve local organizations a month in their conference room. This rental income has covered everything from utilities, maintenance, and insurance costs for the building to be self-sustaining. From this revenue, the Ekari Foundation has been able to reduce overall field office costs within the annual budget, enabling them to hire a full-time office assistant and part-time grounds keeper. By doing so, they have been able to positively affect the local economy by creating jobs, as well as preparing its students to enter the workforce.

Students learning about health education

After moving into the building, the Ekari Foundation was able to officially utilize the classrooms for the first time in April of 2015 for its Tutoring and Health Education & HIV/AIDS Awareness program. The program ran again in August and December of 2015 as well, opening up to the entire community and many non-Ekari students were able to attend. Through the program, students are educated on early marriage, early pregnancies, alcohol consumption, drugs, gender roles/stigmas, general health, including hygiene and nutrition, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. Also, teachers assist students in coping with societal and cultural challenges associated with these topics.

In May and June of 2015, the Community Building was visiting by thirteen students from the University of Michigan as a part of the Higher Education Prep Program. These volunteers led free small group tutoring sessions to prepare students taking night classes at the Community Building for their senior year final exams. The Ekari Foundation hopes to establish a lasting relationship with the University of Michigan and similar programs aimed at offering outreach through tutoring at their facilities. The Higher Education Prep Program strives to reach 90% graduation rate from their high school students by the year 2020 and is working to prepare them for University programs. As well as covering higher education application costs for all their students, Higher Education Program aims to prepare these students to be competitive in a University environment.

University of Michigan students volunteering with the Ekari Foundation

Ekari’s students received small group and individual tutoring from the University of Michigan volunteers

In late September of 2015, the Community Building was able to host a three-month computer program. This enabled them to hire a full-time teacher from Phalombe who offered classes four days a week. The program, in which students learn word processing software basics and uses of the internet was open to the entire community. Lastly, in December of 2015, the Ekari Foundation was able to hire a respectable dentist to conduct check-ups and educate their students on dental care.

The local dentist giving students dental check-ups

Students enjoying the computer classes offered in their new Community Building

The Ekari Foundation serves those students most in need by enabling them to seek a solid educational foundation, equipping them with the skills needed to obtain employment. This mission has been greatly supported by the successful completion of the Community Building and has spread their reach farther into the Phalombe community. This has enabled them to spread awareness and support beyond their students. Construction for Change is proud to have partnered with the Ekari Foundation and witness the change it is creating!

Students enrolled in the Higher Education Prep program