On May 3, 2019, the third Rotary Global Grant project sponsored by the Rotary Club of Joliet and the Limbe, Malawi Rotary Club (with the help of Spesia & Taylor’s John Spesia and Brad McCann) was approved by Rotary International. The grant – which totals $117,148.00 – will go towards to providing essential services to people in the rural Thyolo and Mulanji Districts of Malawi, Africa.
Based on the success of previous projects, the most recent grant will similarly fund improvements for two existing school facilities (Thyolo Elementary School and Nansato Elementary School), that are in a state of disrepair. The improvements include: repairing storm drains and concrete floors, roofs, doors, painting, and shelving, and providing functional windows in order to allow light into the classrooms. In addition, the schools will receive new equipment/materials in the form of new desks and textbooks for the students. Teachers at the facilities will receive training from professor(s) at the Catholic University of Malawi, while new desks and textbooks will be provided.
Similar to previous projects, the most recent installment will also address attendance-related problems. One way in which this will be accomplished is the installation of two separate wells at the two Elementary School grounds, thereby creating incentive for parents to bring their children to school. The well access will allow locals to accomplish both a trip to school as well as a trip to a clean water source. The wells will be 60-90m deep, which reduces the risk of contamination from human, animal, or chemical sources. The pipes in the wells are fixed with a hand pump system, which keeps maintenance simple and ensures sustainability.
In addition to providing a clean water source, the most recent project will attempt to combat absenteeism in a new way. Rotary Club of Joliet with the assistance of John Spesia, worked with Chicago-based non-profit World Bicycle Relief to implement a bicycle education and empowerment program. The program will be administered by World Bicycle Relief and will provide “Buffalo Bicycles” to graduates of Nansato Elementary School and Thyolo Elementary School who enroll at, and attend, local secondary schools. In implementing the program, a community-based committee comprised of local leaders will establish selection criteria based on the specific needs of the community to benefit approximately 80 targeted students and teachers. The selection criteria will seek to benefit those in most need of transportation. Therefore, factors such as distance from the school, vulnerability (e.g., females’ risk for gender-based violence during travel to school), and household economic status will be considered in distributing the bicycles. Ultimately, this will facilitate transportation to and from school, so that bicycle recipients are more likely to attend school, and will create a better learning environment for the children and teaching environment for the teachers. In addition, the program will train two bicycle mechanics who will provide regular maintenance services to students receiving Buffalo Bicycles, thus, ensuring the program’s longevity.
We hope that this project will continue to empower locals by providing them with both clean water and education thus, allowing them to be more economically stable.