Chancellor College, a constituent of the University of Malawi, is one of the oldest high-learning institutions in the country.
Over the years, the college, built in 1973 and popularly known as Chanco, has seen some of its structures deteriorate.
The situation prompted a group of learners to start a programme called ‘Chanco: Project Rejuvenation’, a student driven initiative aimed at rehabilitating dilapidated institutions of importance.
Founded in 2012 by Isabel Kumwembe, now an alumna, the grouping has so far rehabilitated two lecture roomsat the college and is currently refurbishing the Chanco open theatre.
“From the moment I stepped into my dormitory, on my first day at Chanco, I was moved by the state of infrastructure. Distraught by the laissez-faire attitude by many towards playing a part in development issues and the love for my country, I founded the project,” explains the 24-year-old Kumwembe.
She says being a student at Chanco, she witnessed first-hand problems that students face at the college, which the state of infrastructure has been one of the greatest issues of concern.
“The deterioration of infrastructure is an issue many of us complain about, but seldom do anything about. I felt it was long overdue for someone to step up to the task and do something about. I decided I wanted to be that person.
“I could not do it alone and knew that there was power in numbers. A group of students ready to rebuild their college, an advocate for the return of its lost glory was formed and our project established,” she tells how the project started.
According to Kumwembe, the initiative does not only target infrastructure at the college but other institutions as well, hence besides the projects at Chanco, they have also rehabilitated a learning block at Mponda Primary School in the same Zomba district.
But why should this be the responsibility of students when it is supposed to be government’s obligation or other stakeholders?
Kumwembe answers: “Our objective is simple: rehabilitate attitudes as we rehabilitate infrastructure. We have always emphasized on one thing; the unified power of the people and one’s inherent ability to affect change.
“We believe in upholding ones social responsibility and are built on the spirit of volunteerism. We believe volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges.
“Our philosophy is we should never be enslaved by the power of dependency and that everybody plays a part in building the nation we hope for.We all need to be participants.”
The Chanco: Project Rejuvenation depends on grants, donations and fundraising to fund its projects, hence the grouping asks for well-wishers to come in and help them undertake their operations.
The current project, the refurbishment of the open theatre, has so far received support from Nico Life Insurance, who have donated K1.4million. The company has also supported the students in the past with K1million for another project.
“After noticing the progress that has been made at the open theatre, the administration has offered to give us a hand. We have already drafted a quotation and it will be submitted to the dean and the registrar and wait for the principal’s approval,” revealed the excited Kumwembe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :