From ideas to action: Malawi

Dear friends of Theia Notes,

As you have seen, stories have been delayed. This is due to a personal project which I will now reveal. I highly recommend that you scroll to the full story. However, here is the overview of the project :

  1. At Nkhata-Bay School in Malawi, there are 1,500 children. Only half of them can attend school.
  2. The uniform is mandatory; at 7.5 €, it is not expensive for us however it is a barrier to entry for the local families.
  3. The government is corrupt, infrastructures are lacking. Most often, the money doesn’t go where it should.
  4. Mr Patson Banda, whom we have met in February 2019 and we trust as being our intermediary, wishes for children to attend school. He says “education is a key of life”.
  5. This project is a first fundraiser to help these 800 children go to school. We aim to raise a total of 6,300 € via the platform GoFundMe.
Thank you for supporting this project. If you are willing, please share it with your friends, family, and network.

And remember Theia Notes’ focus: a lot of small actions can save the world! We all have a part to play to make the world a better place.


School children in their mandatory uniform at the Nkhata Bay Elementary School in Nkhata Bay, Kande Beach, Malawi


The project

A bit of context

During my travels in East Africa in January 2019, I had the chance to visit Kande Beach in Malawi. It was part of an organised tour managed by Absolute Africa (which I highly recommend). Our stop on Lake Malawi’s shores lasted three days only, but if was plenty of time for us to fall in love with the scenery, and most of all the people.

Beyond the many tourist activities that one can do there (from horseback riding to fishing), one has the opportunity to leave the camp and visit the main village hosting it. As soon as we stepped outside the camp’s main gate, as you would expect, many locals came to us. In other countries, under different circumstances, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by this – but not in Malawi. Unexpectedly, the people wanted to learn about us, who we were and why we came to their country in particular, and they wanted to share: their life story, their lifestyle, their issues and challenges. Malawi is nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa” for all the right reasons.

In one of our most humane encounters during our trip, we made friends with Chud, a young man who has, as the others in his group, relentless energy to grab life by the horns and make the most out of it. Beyond generating a small income from his interactions with tourists like us, Chud works is a very active member of his community, and supports his family, the local school and the local hospital in any way he can. He introduced us to his grandmother, his younger brothers and sisters, his way of life. We also had the chance to meet his uncles, twins going by the names Mel Gibson and Banjo.


Both twins are leaders in their community. Banjo, whose “real” name (on his ID card) is Patson Banda, had taken us to visit the local school where flocks of children welcomed us with open arms, and we had the privilege of talking with the School Principal and the head teacher.

Through our discussions, the help that the village, school and children need became clear. The school takes in a total of 1,500 children children aged 6 to 14. The Malawi Government has made uniforms mandatory to attend school; however, the current state of the economy and the precarity of each family makes this requirement a clear barrier to entry for most children. At the time of writing this article, 800 children need a uniform this year. Until they do, they cannot attend school.

For the past few weeks I have been in contact with Banjo, organising a fundraising for the local school. If this first fundraising is successful, we will organise separate ones for other issues that need tackling (fixing the water pump, financing hospital supplies,…).

This project is the first step, focusing on putting children back in school. Banjo firmly believes that education is the path to improving the lives of all Malawis.


Factsheet: Malawi

  • – Nicknamed “the warm heart of Africa”, the Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland.
  • – As per a 2018 census, is composed of more than 12 ethnics groups, the largest of which, the Chewa, only composes 34.4% of the total population.
  • – Malawi is a majority Christian country, with a significant Muslim minority. Government surveys indicate that 87% of the country is Christian, with a minority 11.6% Islamic population.
  • – The country is one of the least developed in the world, with its GDP mostly based on agriculture (1/3rd). Its HDI was ranked 171st (at 0.477) out of 187 by the UN in 2017.
  • – Malawi has a very low average life expectancy, while its infant mortality is one of the highest in the world. This is due to a poor health system, and the strong presence of HIV/AIDS.
  • – The government, a democratic, multi-party government headed by elected president Peter Mutharika, is well aware of these issues and has implemented programs to address them since 2005, all the while striving to become financially independent.
  • – Despite these issues, the population is forecast to grow to over 45 million people by 2050, nearly tripling the estimated 16 million in 2010.
  • – The currency is the Malawi Kwacha which sees an inflation of 11.5% and trades at 0.00124 EUR on 26 November 2019. Symbol: KWA.

Our aim: Put 800 children back to school

None said it better than the United Nations, which have education as their #4 Global Development Goal: “Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to creating sustainable development. In addition to improving the quality of life, access to inclusive education can help equip locals with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems.”

The aim of this fundraiser is to bring a present for the holiday season: Providing pupils in Malawi the opportunity to attend school – or at least removing the barrier to entry of their family needing to invest in uniforms.

The cost of a school uniform – shirt and shorts – is KWA 6,000 (EUR 7.5). Of the 1,500 students, 800 children at the school need uniforms.

Our goal is therefore to raise KWA 5,000,000 (EUR 6,300) by 16 December 2019.

This will also allow for the taxi trip to go to town and bring back the uniforms to the village. From the closing date, the fund transfers to Banjo’s account will take 2 to 5 days, so this timeline gives him enough time to go to town, purchase the uniforms and bring them back before Christmas day.


The setup and accountability

The fund raising is operated from the well established GoFundMe website. GoFundMe features the very best in secure payment encryption technology. The donors’ online payments are safe and the money is stored securely until we are ready to request a withdrawal via electronic bank transfer.

The only bank account set up on that platform is that of Mr Patson Banda at the FDH Bank, Nkhata-Bay Branch.


The fundraising goal is set in time, space and amount of funds raised:
  1. Fundraising stops on 19 December 2019  no matter the amount raised.
  2. Fundraising stops at KWA 5,000,000 (EUR 6,300) no matter the date prior to 19 December 2019.
  3. The funds received will be sent on 20 December 2019 to Mr Patson Banda’s bank account, in a single transfer.
  4. The funds will be exclusively used to purchase school uniforms and the taxi fare.
  5. Only the operating costs of GoFundMe are taken from this total amount: “A standard transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation includes credit card processing and the secure transfer of funds.” as per their website. Theia Note or Pierre Cattoire, or any other party, will not take any fees / operating costs from this transaction. 

WE WILL ADJUST THE TOTAL GOAL DEPENDING ON HOW MUCH THESE COSTS IMPACT THE ACTUAL FUNDS RECEIVED BY MR PATSON BANDA. This is to ensure that costs do not impact children’s ability to go to school.

Once goal is reached:
  1. The bank transfer takes 2–5 working days between GoFundMe and Banjo.
  2. Photos of uniforms bought, and of receipts, will be taken by Mr Patson Banda and shared will all participants (and via the website).
  3. Names and photos of the uniform recipients will be shared in the same fashion.
  4. If possible, a video will also be shared.
Double-checks from GoFundMe:
“We are proud to offer the first and only donor protection guarantee in the industry: the GoFundMe Guarantee. Every day, thousands of people get the help they need from generous donors. Our team of Trust & Safety specialists work night and day to make sure that funds get to the intended recipient, every time. In the unlikely event that something isn’t right, we will refund your donation. If funds are not delivered to the right person, we will donate the missing amount.”


Note on GoFundMe:

“GoFundMe is powered by the kindness of our donors. Donors to your campaign may choose to give GoFundMe a voluntary tip during the donation process. These tips enable us to maintain and improve our free platform so that we can help even more people. We are incredibly grateful for the donors who help us keep GoFundMe the safest, most trusted and most successful option for personal fundraising.”