Archive for the ‘buildOn’ tag

Team Achemwali

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buildOn1By: Patty Hubbard (President, West Coast)

In early 2010, MKTG INC formed a partnership with buildOn on the West Coast. Our objectives were twofold: to give back to our community, and to mentor high school students who study in challenging urban areas. The buildOn organization provided us with both of these opportunities and more. Since 2010, we have completed several community service projects alongside Bay Area high school students. Along the way, we learned about these students’ extraordinary efforts to lift up not only their own communities but also build new schools in some of the poorest countries on the planet. Many kids involved in buildOn raise funds through volunteer workdays, earning the opportunity travel to countries like Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua and Nepal and build schools there. This is where my journey began.

On March 8, 11 of my female friends, many of us working moms, took our own buildOn trek, traveling to Malawi to build a school. We called our group Team Achemwali (which means “sisters” in the native Malawian language of Chichewa) and we departed having raised $44,000 towards the cause. The Chinthola village found out about their school, and our visit, only about two weeks prior to our arrival. The money raised was enough to build a two-room school as well as fund a three-year adult literacy program. When they heard our group’s name, they were thrilled.

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When we arrived after two days of traveling, the village of Chinthola gave us a warm Malawian welcome, running alongside our bus dancing and singing. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we quickly joined in the festivities. At times the only way to communicate was with sign language, laughter and an open heart. For many of the villagers, this was the first time they had seen a light-skinned person.

Our experience included living with local families. Each day would start at 5am with a short walk to the bath hut with two buckets of water (one cold, one hot) and a cup. The day would end with a family dinner of okra or nsima (a local cornmeal staple) and pumpkin leaves. We ate on a bamboo mat covering the mud floor with a single candle or headlamp illuminating our meal. At night we slept in sleeping bags under mosquito nets.

During our conversations with the 15-plus village chiefs, four teachers and a small group of women, we learned about our different lives and cultures but also our similarities. The richness of family and community support in Chinthola meant that our common thread is love and a desire for healthy, happy children who have the opportunity to get a good education and grow up in a safe world.

For me, the time in Chinthola is one of gratitude, respect and humility.

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April 9th, 2013 at 4:17 pm