A Good Home

The Little School that Could

You may remember the village in Malawi that got its first school after a Jamaican-Canadian woman met a young Malawi vendor in a market in Cape Town, S. Africa and discovered that he yearned to become a teacher and educate his village.

Well, that young man Chimwemwe Musa (who goes by the name “Happy”) recently completed his teacher education and is now a fully qualified teacher! Guided and supported by the retired educator whom he met by chance in the Cape Town market, Happy and his community have been on a life-changing journey.

And the school that Kamala-Jean and Happy co-founded has kept growing and growing to educate not just the community’s children but also its adults.

Kamala-Jean and Happy

The women learned how to sew and now use their skills to make school uniforms and other clothing. And the men have been learning cabinet-making. Here are some of their creations:

I am happy to share this good news story because good news it is!

One of the things that have impressed me throughout is the respectful partnership between Kamala-Jean and Happy.

She’s been the one raising funds for these developments here in North America, while he’s often the one with the knowledge of what would work in his local community. Together they discuss the ideas for the development of Happy and his community, communicating often and listening to each other with trust and respect.

Congrats, Happy and Kamala-Jean!

A Good Home, Community Building, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Malawi School

Now It’s The Women’s Turn

Remember Kamala-Jean?

She’s the Toronto woman who — exactly two years ago — met a young vendor in a  South African market, and proceeded to help transform not only Happy’s life, but the life of his community back home in Malosa, Malawi.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean and Happy and Family

Between Happy’s leadership in his community in Malosa, and Kamala-Jean’s guidance, personal philanthropy and fundraising back in Toronto, the first school was built last year. Three times the number of children they expected were enrolled.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean Women smile in schoolyard

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Schoolbuilding from side

And now there’s more great news! 

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Two girls in uniforms

It starts with this photo. Kamala-Jean explains:

“After Happy sent me the photos with two little girls in blue uniform dresses, I thought: maybe the women could learn to sew and make uniforms and earn funds sewing for others in the community.  So I suggested it to Happy and immediately he responded.

“The women were interested — 40 signed up for sewing and literacy classes and agreed to pay a fee. The classes would be held on Saturdays in the school.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Children in schoolyard2

“I asked my friends to contribute funds to purchase sewing machines. A number responded with support.

“Then I realized that there would not be sufficient room because the current classroom was filled with furniture and 130 children (divided into 2 half-day classes). 

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean kneels with kids

“So I suggested to Happy that we  should build a sewing classroom. This separate room means that the machines will be safe from damage (from the little children) and the women will have access to the room during the week – not just on Saturdays. 

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Children in schoolyard

“I told him to use some of the funds sent to purchase sewing machines to buy building materials, and I would  try to raise some additional funds for the construction (roughly $4,000 Canadian).

“Happy was off to work in no time! 

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- new building nearly complete

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Happy demonstrating how the sewing machine works

“Classes began today (Monday March 26)! 

“The fee of 15,000MK is about $30.00 Canadian which is a fair amount since the majority of the population, who are subsistence farmers, live on about $1.00 per day. We still need help financially but so far I have managed.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- Woman sews and others watch2

“As usual, Happy has shown insight and vision as he seeks to improve the life of his  community.  He understands and tells me that education is the way to uplift his community out of poverty.

Blog Photo - Kamala-Jean -- New Building complete

“I see this sewing room becoming a kind of centre for the community.

“Now today Happy emailed to tell me that the men want to know what can be done to help them because the young children have a  school and the women have sewing classes!!!  I told him to have the men provide suggestions and we will discuss to see what is feasible.

“It is now exactly two years since I  met Happy in Cape Town. If anyone had said that so much would happen in these two years I would have said impossible.   

“This project has brought me a great deal of joy, satisfaction  and fulfilment as I see the difference that has been made in the lives of the people in the small community of Malosa (and without costing  tens of thousands of dollars!!!)”

Bravo, Happy and Kamala-Jean and community!

Photos by Chimwemwe (Happy) Musa