A Good Home, Building a School in Malawi, Inspiration, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Serendipity

Kamala-Jean’s Amazing Story – Pt. 2

When Kamala-Jean saw the school in Malosa for the first time, she sat in the car and started to cry.

“I said to the driver: ‘Just give me a moment, please.’ “

~~

Kamala-Jean had “no notion” that a simple conversation in a Cape Town market would cause so many things to change.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean Gopie wins Hubbard award

When she met Happy, he was a market vendor whose chances in life seemed very limited. Now, he’d not only returned to school at age 23; he was suddenly in charge of building one! 

While Kamala-Jean and People Bridge continued raising funds in Canada, Happy bought the building materials – bricks and sand for walls, cement for the floor, zinc for the roof, glass for the windows.  Next, he hired the workers.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean School being built bricks in front

The school, they expected, would attract about 40 children. Then one day Kamala-Jean got an email.

“Happy emailed me and said, ‘Mum, I registered 70 students in two days. Should I continue the registration or not?’

“Seventy! I wrote back and said ‘No more!’ Then, after I got there, he said, ‘Mum, we have 90 registrations.’ “

~~

Kamala-Jean wiped her tears and stepped from the car. It was September 18 – opening day.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean new school building

“Not only did I hear the children’s voices, but I saw about forty mothers with babies sitting under a mango tree; then there was a table with the head chief and two others. All were there waiting for me.”

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean Women smile in schoolyard

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean Happy Chiefs and Children outside school

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean and Happy in front of children outside schoolhouse

Inside the building, all fifty chairs were filled; the other children sat on a tarpaulin on the floor. Some were barefooted.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean and teacher at front of class

Happy and two young women are the teachers. Everyone sang together.

Afterwards, Kamala-Jean and the teachers planned lessons and went through the teaching supplies she’d brought.

“I told Happy, ‘Let’s close the school while we plan.’

“But the next day the kids were all there. Happy explained what the parents said: ‘If there’s a school, we are going to send our children to it.’ “

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean kneels with kids

~~

The families in the area live on subsistence farming – they grow maize and beans;  some also grow bananas, avocado and mangoes.

“People don’t starve – they grow their own food. But they have no cash.”

~~

Building the school boosted the local economy. It provided an income for many people, including local stores, builders, teachers, furniture-makers and even Happy’s mother and grandmother. Each woman is paid two dollars a week to cook maize for the children’s lunch.

blog-photo-kamala-jean-women-overseeing-lunch-in-schoolyard.jpg

The benefits don’t end there. The community has no water supply, but Kamala-Jean felt the school needed its own water, for hygiene reasons. 

Maybe they should dig a bore-hole for water? She asked Happy to investigate.

blog-photo-kamala-jean-story-latrines-outside-schoolhouse.jpg

Happy did. He told her it was cost-efficient to make water available to the community, not just the school. So the region’s main water pipes, which currently stop outside their area, are now being extended. Happy is supervising this project too.

As his mentor Kamala-Jean says, “His commitment to the community is unbelievably strong.” 

~~

As for Happy?

Chimwemwe (Happy) Musa — his full name — finally got the other results he’d been waiting for. Weeks ago, he learned he passed his exams, thereby completing high school at last. He hopes to start teachers’ college a year from now.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean and Happy and Family

~~

Kamala-Jean still marvels at everything that’s happened since her random meeting with Happy in that Cape Town market.

“Some people would say the stars aligned. If you believe in God, you have to think there was a purpose for my being there. This young man, by the way, has a deep belief in God. He genuinely thinks that if he does the wrong thing, God will not be happy.  He’s always trying to do the right thing.”

As Happy “does the right thing” in Malosa, Kamala-Jean continues to guide and mentor him from Toronto.  And she and People Bridge are continuing to raise funds to support the school till it can stand on its own.

Want to contribute to the Malosa School Project in Malawi?   https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-people-bridge-charitable-foundation/

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51 thoughts on “Kamala-Jean’s Amazing Story – Pt. 2”

  1. What a wonderful and powerful story this is. My thanks to Happy for being a good man, Kamala-Jean for helping and you for telling the story. My heart feels warmer.

  2. Amazing! What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing, Cynthia. And thank you for “doing” KJ. Once again you show us that it really does take a village and that one committed person can make it start happening for that village. You go girl! 🙂

    1. Me too, Brad. It’s teared me up a few times since I started writing this several months ago and it was all but completed till this weekend. I started saving her email notes and photos from the beginning, and told her I was writing a feature about her and Happy. But even so, rereading the story this weekend made me tear up.

    1. So right, Jo Nell. We do. I just read where she said 150 kids are registered today, which means they’ll likely have to add another building. Sounds astounding to even think of, but she also points out that it doesn’t take much (according to our costs) to build there.

    1. It sure does, Andrea. What I didn’t say was that Kamala-Jean’s sister-in-law was buying something elsewhere in the market, and she sat down on a bench – near Happy’s stall — to wait. If she had chosen to sit anywhere else, this would likely not have happened.

  3. I love the story of all these good works continuing to unfold, Cynthia! Please keep your readers posted on Kamala-Jean, Happy and the school. I hope to read that Happy has finished his teaching degree. Those children, and children everywhere, are the hope of the future.

    1. Will do, Lavinia. I’ve been following up with Kamala-Jean and Happy and writing this story for a long time now. This weekend felt like the right time to post it. You’re so right – children are the hope for the future.

  4. Thank you Kamala Jean, thank you Happy, thank you Cynthia – here is the real work of the world and here is where we see good people making a difference and leaving a legacy! Is there a venue for me to donate to this project?

  5. I am filled with joy as I see the difference in the community and it took so little (by our standards) to make it happen. Based on a message from Happy today, 150 children are now registered!! I now have to think know about building another classroom. The parents and the children are hungry for education.

  6. Cynthia thank you for telling our friend Kamala Jean’s amazing gift of selflessness and generosity. She is an example for all of us. The world is a better place because she is in it.

  7. What a wonderful good news story, Cynthia. It gives me hope to hear how much of a difference one person can initiate through a sincere desire to help. God doesn’t need wealthy people, He needs willing hearts. ❤
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  8. I am thrilled to see how God has been using you Kamala-Jean to be His hands and feet here on earth. You are doing a great job and I applauded you for that. For sure I would like to partner with you on such a marvelous work.

  9. I am moved to tears, just reading this, and I am so happy to see the photographs of everyone, especially the moms sitting under the mango tree. As I understand the universe, that was no “random meeting with Happy in that Capetown market,” and what an amazing encounter it was. A big thank you to Kamala-Jean for sharing her love, and you, Cynthia, for sharing this story.

  10. Delighted to see that this story of generosity,joy and justice is being shared. Congratulations Kamala Jean ! May the work of this village spread across the land.

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