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