A team of over 30 Renfrewshire Council trade workers and apprentices have volunteered to build a school in Malawi.
The project, which is being run in partnership with the charity Classrooms for Malawi, will see the council volunteers travel to the tiny William village, a remote area with around 600 children but no education provisions at all.
Apprentice joiners, plumbers, bricklayers, painters, plasterers and gardeners will be joined by various trades and other skilled staff on the two week trip in September 2015.
The volunteers will put their skills to good use by building a three classroom school as well as hopefully undertaking additional projects such as a toilet block, a kitchen and home improvements.
The local education department in Malawi have committed to recruiting a teacher for the school once built and the local community plan to build a teacher’s house.
The trip will be funded entirely through charity fundraising and donations and is part of the council’s Employee Volunteering Scheme.
Renfrewshire’s Provost Anne Hall said: “The people of Renfrewshire have always proven themselves to be generous charity supporters and our workforce is no different. Since launching our employee volunteering scheme in 2012, employees from across the council have given their time generously to a range of projects but this trip to Malawi is the most ambitious so far.
“This is a fantastic project that will provide long term education facilities to hundreds of children who currently live too far to travel to any other school. The response from the employees invited to volunteer for this trip has been wonderful. It is a big commitment that will require nearly a year of fundraising and will be hard work when they get out there. It will also be a fantastic experience for all involved, particularly the many apprentices who are taking part.”
Classrooms for Malawi is a new charity set up with the purpose of improving learning environments for children in Malawi in order to create sustainable routes out of poverty through education. The organisation is run entirely by volunteers.
Tony Begley, Classrooms for Malawi Co-ordinator, said: “We are excited and delighted that a team from Renfrewshire Council will be collaborating with us to build a school at this extremely remote rural village.
“We can already see and appreciate that the team have the skills, energy, enthusiasm and passion necessary to raise the funds and to see this demanding project through to a conclusion.
“Although Classrooms for Malawi have worked in various communities across Malawi this is the first time we have undertaken the task of building where there is no existing school. Currently if a child from William village wants to go to school they have to walk an unthinkable distance, so many do not go, so this school will provide them with an education they simply could not receive otherwise. The school will benefit the community for generations to come.”
The project came about after Tony visited William village last year and was presented with a petition arranged by the children and their parents asking for a new school even though they themselves couldn’t sign it as they could not write their names.
Justin Kamwendo, a local Malawian Education Officer, is one of the few children from William Village that has enjoyed the success of an Education. He said: “Building a classroom block in William Village will help those of school age who are currently unable to access education due to the lack of facilities. They will not only gain an education, but their behaviour will also change for the better and they will also receive health education. The whole village community’s economic status will improve as the children learn, especially with regards to agriculture which is the village’s main source of income, as they understand the importance of following better methods of farming. I thank Classrooms for Malawi for identifying Renfrewshire Council as a great partner who will transform the lives of everyone in William Village by building a school there”
A series of fundraising events and initiatives gets underway this month, starting with a charity Halloween party on Friday 24 October in Knights of St Columbus Hall, Renfrew.
Tickets cost £10. To book or to find out more about sponsorship opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This will be the second Employee Volunteer Scheme trip to Africa by Renfrewshire Council employees. In September 2014, a team of seven employees travelled to South Africa to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.