From ideas to action: Malawi

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.
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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 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.

About the project

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.

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.

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.

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 www.theianotes.com 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.”