Dick Day, MA., is a founding Director of SAFE-Africa which trains elementary and secondary school teachers in SAFE's "WHY WAIT?" biblically-based abstinence, life-skills and character-development curriculum across eight grade levels. Click here to read Dick's perspective on the AIDS pandemic, posted at PurposeDriven.com.

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of all those who have nothing."

--Proverbs 31:8
(NCV)

Need > Our History…Our Story

 

Click to read Charlotte Day's special letter to
"Gogo Grandmothers across the ocean"
for her very personal historical perspective

It all started with SAFE. . .
(Sub-Saharan Africa Family Enrichment)

SAFE, a registered NGO (Non Government Organization) in Malawi, Africa, began in 1995 addressing the needs of the youngest members of society-children ages two to five.

This was an expansion of SAFE's initial and continuing focus on equpping public school teachers to present in primary and secondary schools SAFE's eight-year WHY WAIT? abstainence and life-skills based Christian character development curriculum across Malawi and in a growing number of other African countries. (For a detailed picture of this mission which has trained over 3,000 teachers who will touch 300,000 students this year, click to visit the www.WhyWaitAfrica.com web site.)

The first step was to help source funds for a "lab school" on the Chancellor College campus of the University of Malawi. Charlotte Day, SAFE's ECD/OVC Director, introduced the first ECD course, and the lab school provided a practicum for her students at the university.

In 2000, realizing that 80 percent of children live in rural conditions, SAFE with Makungula Village group headman and local chiefs, brought together parents and children to plan a community-based ECD center. After three years of meeting daily under a mango tree in the chief's yard, a culturally appropriate, cost-effective and developmentally appropriate shelter was constructed with the help of the community. It was dedicated by Honorable Joyce Banda, Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Community Services and later chosen by President Bingu wa Mutharika for celebration of the Day of the African Child in 2005.

Mphanje, meaning "preparation of a garden" in Chichewa, is the name of this pilot ECD preschool located in Makungula Village, TA Kuntumanji, Zomba district. The caregiver/teachers call themselves the Mizu, meaning "roots"--the ones who give support and offer growth to the children, the young plants in the garden.

The caregivers/teachers have been trained in exploratory play pedagogy and child-centered activities in order to promote optimal psychosocial stimulation and cognitive growth. They, as of mid-2007, have trained more than 50 other village caregiver/teachers. The Mphanje Makungula ECD Center hosts many government and international visitors, and it has become a model rural community-based preschool.

In a small longitudinal study at the local primary school, children graduating from Makungula preschool have shown a pass rate of 77 percent, versus 39 percent for those not having attended preschool. This is far above the national average. The conclusion is that the methodology and pedagogy of exploratory learning, coupled with teaching and learning aids made from locally available resources and trained teachers provide results in school performance. While 86 percent of Malawian children begin primary school, at present only 34 percent progress past grade four. The hope is that with developmentally age-appropriate and child-centered learning, these statistics will change.

Gogo Grandmothers
From the ECD mission a need surfaced to work with the village elderly, specifically the old gogos (grandmothers) who are burdened with raising their grandchildren left by their dying children, many due to the AIDS pandemic. With only the land they live on, they struggle to feed, clothe and keep the children in school. With support in prayer and fundraising efforts from Gogo Grandmother groups in the United States, SAFE provided commercial fertilizer and seed for 39 grandmothers' gardens in 2005. From their harvest the grandmothers returned over 600 pounds of maize to feed the Mphanje preschool children.

In 2006, American grandmothers provided funds for 155, 120-pound bags of commercial fertilizer for 155 poor Malawian grandmothers. This support program is called "Gogo Grandmothers" and groups of grandmothers from America, as well as the urban cities Zomba and Blantyre, have formed prayer and caring networks to help their less fortunate sisters. The Gogo Grandmothers meet both in the village and urban areas on a monthly basis to socialize, share needs, give and receive help. Funds for blankets, school fees, and food have been raised to give to the poor village grandmothers. The African grandmothers enjoy monthly times of fellowship, reading the Word of God, praying, singing and dancing.

     
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