Jacaranda School of Orphans founder expresses deep distress over dilapidated state of Namiwawa Primary School at launch of 23rd Luc’s Library

Jacaranda School for Orphans founder and director, Marie da Silva expressed dismay and deep distress over the collapse of structures for Namiwawa Primary School along the road to Sanjika Palace in Blantyre and appealed to alumni and other well-wishers not to wait on government but reach out to assist some of the challenges being faced at the historic school.

She said this at the launch of Luc’s Library, which Jacaranda School’s executive director Luc Deschamps offered for the school that Da Silva attended from 1968 when she was nine years old.

Da Silva was guest of honour being an alumnus of the school when it was called Dharap and she said she has attended many launches of Luc’s libraries but this one was special to her heart.

A learner reads out a book for Deschamps and the media

“This used to be a sort of exclusive primary school in Blantyre but it saddens me to see the state it is in,” she said. “It was founded a long time ago and one would expect it to be far much better than it was.

“Sadly, the school’s structures are in such a sorry sight and needs urgent attention to, thus I call on former students and other well-wishers that we should do something about it.

“The positive thing is that the school is still operating — kids are attending their studies and the teachers are dedicated to their work. If we intervene we will contribute towards their bright future under conducive environment,” she appealed.

Deschamps poses with some of the learners

An inspection of the school showed that all the blocks need a new coat of paint; their window panes and doors needing replacement and in most classes, the learners sit on the floor.

Da Silva said Jacaranda received some single student desks from their donors and thus pledged to donate to Namiwawa over 100 double desks they were using before.

Luc’s Library has added some beauty after Jacaranda painted the part of the block it is being housed; decorated the walls; replaced all broken window panes; fixed its electricity and furnished the room with reading desks, benches and book shelves.

It was stocked with 1,100 books of all kinds — academic and otherwise and they were sorted out on the shelves according to the reading levels of the children.

Da Silva also urged her fellow alumni and other well-wishers to consider donating books to the library which their children no longer need to inculcate the culture of reading which Luc’s libraries aims at.

“The kids need to read of developments taking place in the rest of the world and that is through reading. Books also refresh the young minds and help them to gain so much knowledge and skills that can help them achieve good academic results.”

Of the 23rd Luc’s Library, Deschamps said they are still working on opening other school libraries in Blantyre and beyond and that they will turn others into centres of excellent where talented Jacaranda secondary students would be engaging and training primary learners in various skills.

“We have students at Jacaranda who suggested that they could visit some schools and using their Luc’s libraries to train the learners in special skills such as art, music, chess to brighten their minds and other mind refreshing activities.

“What impressed me was that it was the Jacaranda students themselves that made this wonderful suggestion, which we have embraced because it will help them bond well with various learners from different backgrounds,” said Deschamps — who is also the French Embassy attaché to Malawi.

The Luc’s Library initiative — done in collaboration with various donors for Jacaranda Foundation outreach programs — is reaching out to over 55,000 children in Blantyre and beyond.

“Our goal is to foster a reading culture among children in Malawi – and support the work of Ministry of Education,” Deschamps said. “The 1,733 learners of Namiwawa Primary School — 885 girls and 848 boys — now have a quality library where they can improve their reading skills and borrow books.”

Other Luc’s Library are at the following primary schools: Nayizi in Bangwe; Chiradzulu; Mbayani 1; St Pius; Kanjedza; Limbe Primary; St Maria Goretti; Makata in Ndirande; Nkolokoti; Bangwe Catholic; Kapeni;  HHI Primary School; Misess and Chigumula.

Others are community libraries at Pensulo Village (Blantyre); Kusewera Village (Lilongwe); Wandikweza Health Center (Dowa); Jacaranda Cultural Center (Blantyre, Top Mandala); Trade Fair Gounds in Blantyre (Stand 82) and Chemboma Village, Chigumula.

There are some children library installed at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s Paediatric Ward and Patsogolo Education Center for special needs children.

Jacaranda Foundation, that operates free primary and secondary schools for over 400 orphaned learners in Newlands, Chigumula, is doing wonders for its learners and in April last year it became the first school in Malawi to be awarded full scholarships to five of its students to study Bachelor of degrees in prestigious African universities in Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius and Zimbabwe.

The five were David Mandiwa (in Biological Sciences at University of Botswana); Katie Kaonga (Social Sciences at Africa University in Zimbabwe); Harry Goliyo (Computer Sciences at African Leadership University in Mauritius); Idah Geoffrey (Entrepreneurship also at African Leadership University in Mauritius) and Franklin Rashid (Applied Computing at United States International University in Kenya).

This is in its 18th year of keeping orphaned children in school and more than over 100 of its graduates have go on to various colleges in Malawi such as the Catholic University; Malawi College of Accountancy; the Polytechnic; Malawi Institute of Tourism; Malawi Adventist University; Malawi Assemblies of God University — just to mention a few.

“I never thought that our students would be receiving full scholarships to international universities in Africa,” Da Silva had said last year. “These students have come a long way with some of them starting school at Jacaranda at 6 years old in Standard 1.

“And all were coming from very underprivileged homes. I am very proud of them. Those are amazing scholarships.”

In 2020, two of Jacaranda’s 2017 Malawi School’s Certificate of Education (MSCE) graduates, Clement Kammwamba and Reuben Salima, were sent to the USA for a semester Accelerator Program at Watson Institute in Boulder, Colorado where they were to develop social entrepreneurship skills.

This was not their first time to travel abroad as in 2016 they attended the Otis College Summer of Art program in Los Angeles and in 2017, they also travelled to Shanghai, Beijing, New York City and Los Angeles.

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