We’re so proud of Mitula and Dwalala Primary School in Malawi’s Kasungu District! Both schools launched community-run breakfast programs in October 2019, an initiative that impacts over 1,100 students. This blog offers an outline of how this became possible 🙂
18 months ago, both these rural schools embarked on an ambitious program to address childhood hunger and malnutrition. Guided by the ever-capable Bright Msuku and his team, parents, teachers, and students came together to develop school food gardens that could sustain a breakfast program. It is a community effort that our partners In A Perfect World recognised as being powerful, and it is thanks to their generosity that we were able to provide these two schools with the resources and support that they needed. It all started with intensive training in permaculture, the development of an action plans, and the allocation of land for the project in early 2018.
In the ensuing months, the school’s newly formed permaculture committee visited other regional schools to learn from their experiences running meal programs, and set about the labor-intensive work of establishing large scale farms for the program. Applying permaculture principles, parents and school staff set about intercropping maize, soya beans, and beans. They also set about creating organic compost in order to gradually ease their reliance on chemical fertilisers. In a matter of months, aided by the rains, both schools started to see encouraging results.
In addition to growing inputs that could be used towards a nutritious porridge in the morning, both schools planted a wide variety of fruit trees such as bananas, mangoes, and oranges.
With the support of In A Perfect World, both schools were able to construct meal kitchens to operate their breakfast programs. Each feature highly efficient rocket stoves that use a fraction of the firewood needed by regular stoves. Meanwhile, we started to observe local farmers starting to adopt permaculture methods on their own home plots! Many citing that they were inspired by the results they observed at the school. This is deeply encouraging as our theory of change is that schools can serve as hubs for sustainable practices that will ripple across the wider community.
After careful planning and monitoring, it was time to start the program. Upon launch, it was decided that the program would offer breakfast two days of every week for the first term. The intent being to gradually expand it to five days a week as the capacity of the schools’ farms grow. Both communities celebrated this effort with great fanfare, with speeches, dances, and plays celebrating the significance of this truly community-led project.
Dwalala and Mitula Primary School have reached this amazing milestone through a deep commitment to caring for their children. Importantly, students played an active part in learning, forging plans, and implementing this program too. Our role has been to provide them with the guidance and support that they need. It truly is a testament to the scale of the positive impact that is possible through collective action. We will be monitoring progress at both these schools and we look forward to sharing further details on how this initiative, in addition to other complementary projects at these schools (electricity, sanitation, and water), are changing lives for the better.
If you’d like to support initiatives like this, consider becoming one of our “Champions”. Regular donations of $20/month have been vital to helping us deliver the ongoing support that our partner schools need. It only takes a minute to setup and is tax-deductible in Australia.