Partnership with Voices Awake!

By Samuel Malasa Banda

Towards the end of the year 2018, we helped birth the newest Urban Promise International ministry, Voices Awake! Headed by the versatile Vanessa Mwangala, Voices Awake works alongside girls and women with an aim of promoting positive values, abuse awareness, healthy sexual attitudes, and leadership development.

Currently, Voices Awake is on track in the construction of its house which upon completion, it will provide lodging for more than 20 girls in rotation including students, interns, and employees. Further, the house will have a library and computer room for the girls.  The organization is also helping teen mothers who dropped out of school by mentoring them in entrepreneurial ideas and for those with interest; they are being helped to return to school.

The effort to improve lives of people in Salima has extended to paying tuition fees for six girls at Cornerstone Christian High School and also sponsoring several boys and girls from Salima and other districts who are in need of tuition, food, clothing and other basic necessities.

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Cornerstone Board Member, Reverend Tembo with Vanessa and Danneck at the Voices Awake premises.

According to Voices Awake Director, Miss V, her organization also holds Mentorship sessions every Friday at Cornerstone Christian High School, attended by 76 girls who are instructed in various skills and have a chance to interact with role models.

As Cornerstone Ministries Malawi, we are happy to be an incubator for other new ministries like Voices Awake who have come to Salima to help transform and empower girls and youths for Christ.

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Will you help build for our scientists?

Cornerstone Christian High School has become one of the most eye-catching sights in town. But, aside from the beauty of the campus, CCHS students boast a faculty of well-qualified and committed teachers.

Lesia Simaewa, a form 3 student attests this: “Before I came to Cornerstone, I attended my first two years of school in another district. As compared to there, our teachers here are committed. At my previous school, we would knock off at 12 in the afternoon, but at CCHS, when learning is finished, we remain for an hour for studies. This makes CCHS so unique,” commends Lesia. Lesia, an aspiring biomedical scientist says he knows that God sent Cornerstone as the key to open the door to his future. But to be a biomedical scientist, Lesia needs more than committed teachers. “Though I enjoy learning Science subjects like Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Agriculture, I get worried that I will never have a chance to experiment in a laboratory using the theories I’ve learned in the classroom,” pleas Lesia. “Further, though we have a few books, our school lacks a library where a student can go anytime to study because we use the same classrooms as a makeshift library when classes are over,” explains the visibly sad future scientist.

According to Cornerstone Christian High School Principal, Chikondi Chabakha, plans are underway to construct a Science laboratory and Library at the school.

“We need around $20,000 to build a complex which will house the laboratory and library. During the 2018 Giving Tuesday campaign, we raised enough funds to launch the project, and we continue to ask other supporters to join in contributing to our campaign,” says the Principal.

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Our students need a laboratory for Science experimentations like this one

 

Salima district is located along the shores of Lake Malawi and has a population of around five million and has over 30 secondary schools. Sadly, out of all the secondary schools, only two have Science laboratories. That means during Science practical exams for the government standardized examinations, over 4,000 students, representing all schools in the district, cram into or wait for two laboratories. More importantly, it means almost 90 percent of the students have their first experience using a Science laboratory during their examinations. They are forced to prove their knowledge in an area they’ve never practiced before. For students like Lesia, that is their biggest scare.

“Our friends at Chipoka and Salima secondary schools (the only schools which have Science laboratories) are able to practice every day; but for us, we study without having a hands-on experience of the wonders of Science,” Lesia complains.

As Cornerstone Christian High School’s reputation flaps its wings and soars, consider being part of this wonderful story and help us build a Science laboratory and Library to help Lesia achieve her dreams.

Developing tomorrow’s leaders today

As Cornerstone, our quest is to empower and transform kids and youths for Christ. And to ably fulfill this, we encourage young people in our Empowerment programs and our staff to attain higher qualifications so that they can ably contribute to the development of their communities and Malawi.

Amongst the greatest fits of the last quarter of the year 2018 was the graduation of our Administrative Assistant Joyce Pande, one of our Camp leaders, Promise Mjima and  Glory Munthali who went to the US.

A little about Promise  

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Promise at his graduation

Promise was part of the second cohort of Camp leaders recruited in 2013.  For the past three years, he has been studying for a Diploma in Gender and Development at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As a ministry, we are happy to see youths from our Youth Empowerment Program becoming reliable citizens in society.

Promise is also a representative of Salima Youths in the Malawi Youth Parliament. In this role, he takes up the needs of fellow youths to the national assembly. As a ministry, we look forward to producing many young people like Promise who can lead and influence change in their communities.

And to everyone who has ever visited Cornerstone premises, Joyce is the young lady always wearing a smile. With her graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration, we are assured that she will help Cornerstone grow in its drive to sustainability as she will help in managing the business at the Cornerstone Christian High School and other commercial ventures.

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Joyce with Cornerstone staff at her graduation

Another highlight for 2018 was our teacher Glory Munthali was selected to attend the two-year UrbanPromise International School of Entrepreneurial Leadership in the U.S. She will receive in-depth instruction in non-profit organizational leadership.  While at Cornerstone, Glory demonstrated ability as a leader and visionary, we are sure that her studies will help her serve fellow youths well when she returns to Malawi.

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Glory (R) with a friend at New Hanover United Methodist Church, Pennsylvania, United States.

For kids in need, a beacon of Hope

By Samuel Malasa Banda

The After-School Program is Cornerstone’s flagship program that has given birth to other programs at the ministry. Introduced in 2012, the After-School program provides supplementary education to pupils between the ages of 7 and 15, who are in Standard 4 up to 7 in the afternoon. Normally, public primary school learners leave school at 2pm, so the ASP starts at around 3 pm.

Most public schools in Malawi have a high enrollment reaching a maximum of 150 learners per classroom, and the learner-teacher ratio is very high making it hard for most of the kids to understand the concepts they are taught. With that in mind, the Cornerstone ASP serves to help the kids — free of charge — to excel academically.

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Learners enjoying their time at the After-school program 

Further, many Malawian families cannot afford to have 3 meals a day. This means that most of the kids do not eat breakfast and lunch and only eat supper. Therefore, many are not able to concentrate in class. To address this issue, kids at the After-School program are given snacks, and where funds permit, they are served a complete meal.

From Monday to Thursday, the program serves between 200 and 250 kids who come from seven public schools that surround the Cornerstone impact area.

Additional to the After-School program, during school holidays, Cornerstone runs a Summer Camp program where kids come in the morning from 7 am up to noon. The program’s objective is to engage learners in Christian, academic and athletic activities during the holiday. Among the activities that happen at the summer camp program are life skills, music lessons, athletics, arts and crafts, and Bible lessons. The Summer Camp program is usually attended by over 350 kids.

The strength of both the After-School and Summer Camp programs is that they are inclusive. The programs incorporate physically-challenged and marginalized kids and accept kids from all religious backgrounds knowing that Cornerstone will teach them the Word of God.

In our quest to give a Christian foundation to the kids, one of the challenges has been physical space to conduct our programs. Since 2012, Cornerstone has been operating from rented premises which are costly and unsustainable. Therefore, it is the vision of the ministry to have its own premises where kids can come to learn to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and men just like Christ did.

The provision of meals for students has attracted many kids into the program, as they know they will get their stomachs filled while at the same time getting an education and learning the Word of God.  When there is a lack of funds to provide meals to the kids, it hampers the attendance of the program. Cornerstone wishes to continue being a safe haven for needy and hungry kids where they will have their hopes and dreams renewed.

Cornerstone Christian High School leaps to three; Counting the impact

By Samuel Malasa Banda

Cornerstone Christian High School came to Salima at a time when they were already a dozen private secondary schools in the district. Two years after its inception, CCHS stands as one of the best schools in the district.

 A school that opened its doors in September 2016 with only 20 students, now 3 years later, has over 100 students. What has been the secret?

“Our school has thrived on the principle of inclusiveness. Being a Christian High school, Cornerstone has a considerable number of Muslims as students,” says the school’s Principal Chikondi Chabakha.

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The newest students at CCHS, 2018/19 Form 1 cohort posing with the school Principal. 

Aside from offering quality education, the school is a tool for preaching the gospel to students. For instance, the school has daily morning devotions where the word of God is preached for at least 15 minutes to give the students a good start for the day.  And this is refreshing to many students.

The daily devotions have opened the door to the truth for many non-Christian students, and they now have a good understanding of the Holy Scriptures and many of them have received Christ as their Lord and personal savior.

Parents of students at Cornerstone Christian High School speak highly of the school. Most parents appreciate the mentorship role that the teachers play in the lives of the students, as many students take their teachers as their role models.

Looking forward, Cornerstone Christian High School wants to be a model of excellence where students find holistic Christian education that prepares them for life on earth and a joyous after-life experience.

The Cornerstone Goats Project-A Step towards Sustainability

By Samuel Malasa Banda

As a local non-profit organization, Cornerstone Ministries Malawi strives to find a sustainable venture where the investments can, in turn, help the needs of the ministry. As a step towards this objective, Cornerstone currently has 23 goats that are part of a program meant to kick start a goat farming business.

The 23 goats are being kept at a rented place since the Cornerstone campus does not have a permanent structure to keep the animals. The ministry, however, has acquired a larger plot about 40 kilometers from the Salima town where there are plans to turn it into a farm.

According to Danneck, the establishment of the Cornerstone farming project will help waive school fees and also help meet operating costs for the ministry.

Cornerstone Christian High School charges school fees as low as $50 per term or $150 annually for students.  However, the revenue that the school brings in is not even enough to pay for teachers’ salaries and operations.

 

 

 

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After-school program Director Tionge, inspecting the foundations of the goats’ kraal.

“It is possible to have the fees at Cornerstone Christian High School raised to meet the standard of the school, but we realize that as Cornerstone, we exist to help the community. We are the hands and feet of Christ in Salima,” assures Danneck.

Therefore, a business venture like the goat farming project will help the ministry generate income to enable more students to attend school at a lower cost and be given a chance for a brighter future.

But for this sustainability dream to actualize, Cornerstone needs funds to develop the land it has acquired so that the goats can be housed at an appropriate place safe for production and growth. Further, the ministry wishes to have more goats and other animals like chickens and pigs to diversify the business and avert the risk of some diseases which wipe out livestock.

Why are we constructing a Science laboratory?

At 20, Victoria is sure she is on the right path as she is expected to write her secondary school leaving examinations next year. But this is not her first time sitting for the exam.

“Í first wrote my high school final examination in 2017 but I was not satisfied with the results as they could not enable me to study for my dream career; to be a Languages teacher” explains a seemingly shy Victoria.

But what inspired her dream to write exams two years after her first attempt?

“Having grown up in the village, I always admired people who had gone far with school. I admired their knowledge of various things, and I wanted to contribute to the development of my village and country through my career”, she says.

Now a Form 3 student at Cornerstone Christian High School, Victoria’s dreams to be a Languages teacher has been shaped by circumstances.

“In my community, most of the people I knew were community social workers and even at my school, almost all Science teachers were male. This prompted me into thinking that Science is for men and not women”, a visibly defeated Victoria said as she explained why she wants to be a Languages teacher.

“Besides, my former school in Madisi did not have any laboratories for learning Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. We were just learning about a triple beam balance from a book but we never had a chance to see it”, she explained, “and during final exams, we would walk to the next available school to write practical exams using their laboratory and appliances.

IMGP0463 Victoria at CCHS

For Victoria and her classmates, this was harsh because it meant that their first and only encounter with a laboratory would be in an exam, whose results would determine whether they could apply for college or not.
“As a result, many students settle for Languages and Humanity subjects because they do not need laboratories for one to excel”, concludes Victoria.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Malawi ranks as one of the countries with an acute shortage of health workers. The WHO says patient to doctor ratio is at 6 to 100,000 while Malawi’s nurse to patient ratio is at 34 to 100,000. This is below the WHO’s recommended ratio. (http://www.times.mw/staff-shortage-in-malawis-health-sector/)

If one enters a Form 1 class at many secondary schools in Malawi and asks the ambitions of the students, almost half of the students would like to be, either a nurse or doctor. What’s the motive?

They will tell you that they feel sad that their mother, father or sibling died at the place where they were supposed to get a life, the hospital because there were insufficient staff members.

Meet the same students three years later; they will say they would like to either be a journalist or lawyer, why? Because they feel Science disappointed them.
But actually, it’s not Science, is the lack of teaching and learning materials for Science subjects that killed the dream.

We have a group of eleven girls in Form Two who dream of becoming nurses and doctors; help keep their dreams alive.   So, we are building a laboratory to allow these girls to fulfill their dreams.


Our aspiring doctors and nurses posing with their Chemistry and Biology teacher; Ms. Msukwa

At Cornerstone, we don’t want to kill dreams. We are determined to inspire them.  We want to give them a path different to Victoria’s. Help us reach $20,000!!

 

You can make your contribution here:

https://www.urbanpromiseinternational.org/cornerstone