For around a year, we have been working with the visually impaired unit at Ekwendeni Primary School. Now, we have teamed up with Cyprian in Mzuzu. As we work through Best of Friends, so he has his own charity which works with the 3 deaf schools in Northern Malawi.
We are developing a strategy which will ensure not only primary education for these kids who are deaf or blind, we want to ensure secondary, tertiary, on-the-job and training-for-work; and, ultimately, work with the employers to get this people jobs so they become useful members of society.
The enrolment of these 4 schools is around 800. But, we know, there are many others out in the villages who are not part of the education system.
Our plan is to work with these kids and create an individual flightpath to full employment. We will not own any of the infrastructure; rather, we aim to work with existing institutions and empower and resource them to provide the specialist teaching required.
We might create hubs at Ekwendeni and Embangweni; there is already some provision at each of these. The first part at Ekwendeni is to wall the primary school unit; next, we hope to work with the Community Day Secondary School (CDSS) and build a unit there. This would then be operated by the government. We aim as well to speak to University of Livingstonia to see how we can support them to provide tertiary education to this specialist group.
The really exciting part of this is to build Growing Skills Demonstration Farm. This would be a mixed farm, perhaps 50 hectares, which would have professional managers. We would offer maybe 50 apprenticeships to deaf or blind kids. Here, they would learn how to work and be prepared for future life.
Ultimately, this farm should be self-sustaining. This would be achieved by using methods which improve yields. We would have processing to add value.
It is called a “demonstration farm” as there would be a teaching area. Schools would be invited to send year groups for a visit, where they might watch a video and then see the methods in action.
The cost of all of this could come to between £300,000 and £500,000! Serious fundraising to be done!