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

 

 

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Stories that inspire hope- meet Honest Lungu

By Honest Lungu.

In the journey of life, many things happen. I am Honest Lungu, born in Salima Traditional Authority Makanjira, born to a Muslim family, my dad passed away when I was 3 years old and my mom followed him when I was 6.

My life has been so hard since I had no one to stay by my side, then my aunt and her husband jumped in and took me and my sister to their home, by then my sister was almost 2 years of age. I worked hard during my primary education though there were a lot of people discouraging, even the guardians themselves. Then my school attendance was sparing due to some jobs that I was given to do and be absent from school. Then my uncle took me to stay with him in Lilongwe where I was going to a good school as compared to the one I attended previously.

In the year 2010 when I was repeating my standard 7, that was when I got saved by the grace of God Almighty. That was the point I realized that life had started, because I was beaten, mocked to the extent of about to be killed just because I changed religion to Chris. By the grace of God, I wasn’t killed but I was sent back home. There I started striving to live because everyone refused to take me into their home. I was then given a choice to choose either be one of them by turning to either return to Islam or stay alone with no one to help. I started doing some manual works to find soap, clothes and other necessities for me to go to school.

Then there was this other teacher who took me in, my uncle accepted but after hearing that I’m still going to church he came and warned the teacher saying he must chase me out of his house because I did not start staying there for church but school, and he said if the teacher doesn’t chase me out, if anything happens he will be answerable. He chased me but I did not go back to the village instead I started collaborating with a friend who was self-boarder because my heart was about going to secondary school though I did not have an idea of where will the fees come from.

I passed my standard 8 examinations and I was selected to Matenje Community Day Secondary School, where I was worried about tuition fees but God made a way. He used other well-wishers whom I do not know up to date for me to learn. I was self-boarding and I was again struggling to survive then I bought a film camera with the money I was given by my church pastor. I started a photography business which I depended on to survive

After meeting some good people who inspired me on how good is school nowadays, I grew a hunger of going back to school. I started applying to various schools; fortunately, I was selected to Polytechnic continuing education center. I applied to pursue community development course with the aim to changing people’s mindset for better, in the sense of, educating people on how they should look at the things that they believed in the past years and how the world is changing.

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My vision is to work with the community, educating them on how they can develop their lives as well as their community, encouraging their sanitation, empowering them, and above all showing them the love of God. Am interested in the community because I can see out there a lot of young people living in the hard lives as I am, others find it more difficult than I do. If they can be empowered, they can know why God create them.

The challenge that I am facing much now is a financial challenge.  I am failing to concentrate on school things and engage myself in some works for me to earn a living, which is eating my time for studies.

All in all, I know I have a powerful God whose grace is abundant upon those who trust Him.

Danielle’s Cornerstone Experience.

By Danielle Hixt

 

This past July I had the opportunity to visit Cornerstone Ministries in Salima, Malawi; along with our team from Ladner Baptist Church from Ladner, British Columbia, Canada. Before we had left, I was not sure what we would be experiencing while we were there; what we would see, the different foods we were about to try. After months of preparation, it was so exciting to be able to see first-hand what Cornerstone Ministries was all about. We had been told beforehand that there they focused on building relationships with their sponsors and that made the whole experience that much better. All the faces we had seen in photos before we got there; now we actually had the chance to build friendships with those people. It was such an amazing time to connect with these people who have the same love for God and want to share it with all those kids who come to Cornerstone. During the first week, each morning we had gone to join the Cornerstone staff at the ministry center and had morning devotions. This was such a nice way to start of each day knowing that God will always be with us; and that he will always love us.

During the after-school program, I helped at the elementary school and was a part of a group that would be teaching ‘Life Skills and Coaching.’ During this class, we taught different subjects including Math, Science, English and Hygiene lessons to the kids. During classes I helped teach, I worked with two of the Cornerstone staff, Wongie and Stan. This way for the kids who did not understand English very well, they were able to understand and learn in Chichewa.  Each time a new group entered our class, instantly there was so much energy inside the classroom with all the kids. Being able to see and watch just how much they wanted to be there and learn; especially since there was ‘azungu’ teaching. There was this one time during a hygiene lesson, we had been talking about which foods are healthy and which food is not, and I had misspelled Nsima as Sima. All the kids had started to giggle at me because I didn’t know.

 We also had the chance for home visitations to the homes of the staff at Cornerstone, and with the kids at the schools. We were separated into small groups to visit a few different families. The first boy we visited had sung us a song and shared about his favorite sports and school classes; he had also been at the after-school program. His mom sat and talked with us as well, she had kept telling us about how grateful she was to God to have us visit her home. At the second home we visited, we sat outside and talked with the boy and his mom. kids in the neighborhood around their house had noticed that we were there and had started to watch us and see what we were doing. I had gone with Jay D to his home where I got to meet his mom and siblings. After the home visit, we went into the market and had met his Dad at his shop and then got to wander around town and see everything.

This was definitely a great experience that I will never forget.

Girls Health First

By Samuel Malasa Banda

All students are seated quietly in class when the teacher, as a way of winding up his lesson for the day asks a random question. As per practice, a student is supposed to raise their hand and when the teacher appoints them, one is supposed to rise up their hand and stand up to answer the question.

But strangely, one girl raises her hand and choose to answer the question while seated. This annoys the teacher who sends out the student because she is defiant.

Or maybe, think of this:

A girl is seated in class when unknowingly, her menstruation starts. That is in a class of both boys and girls. This is a class where boys, due to lack of knowledge and understanding, laugh at a girl.

This is a common phenomenon with girls in Malawian secondary schools, and Cornerstone Christian High school hasn’t been an exception.

As stated by one of the teachers at the school Glory Munthali, who also acts as the School matron, most girls, are shy during these times.

“Most girls have to endure the scorn from boys when it’s been known about their situation. This happens because most of them lack durable and comfortable pads that can last a long time” says Munthali.

But Munthali’s worries have been addressed, thanks to the generous gift from the Ladner Baptist Church team that visited Cornerstone.

As one way of encouraging girl’s health and education, the team donated over 200 reusable sanity pads sourced from Afripads, a local sanitary and health appliance company.

According to one of the Afripads officials who gave a talk to more than 150 girls who received the donation, the reusable pads can last up to six hours. Further, the pads can be used continuously for three months.

The girls were also taught how they can properly take care of themselves and the pads they received.

Aside from the pads, the girls were given sandals and other necessary toiletries.

Speaking on behalf of all the girls who received the assorted items, 15-year-old Padana Nkorongo, a Form 2 student at Cornerstone Christian High School said they are so grateful to God for the generosity of the Ladner team.

“The pads will enable us to attend classes comfortably without fear of being shamed. Some of us would be absent from school, but now with the reusable pads, we will be able to attend school regularly,” said Padana.

With the donation of the reusable pads, slip-on shoes, and various toiletries, our girls have been pushed a step further in their pursuit for a better life.

Hanging out with Ladner

By Samuel Malasa Banda.IMGP7166

 

To those who are fortunate to be residents of Salima, a small lakeshore district in Malawi, it is no strange scene seeing a group of Whites in a fleet to the lake and spend a weekend basking in the sun. Malawi boasts one of the best freshwater lakes in Africa.

But, it is a peculiar view seeing fourteen Canadians staying three weeks, not at the lake, but at a small local lodge, all for a cause greater than refresh and luxury. Sacrificing twenty-one days to be burnt by the heat of Salima, all for the love of mission and spreading the love of Christ.

That’s the story of the Ubwenzi (Partnership) team from Ladner Baptist Church, British Vancouver, Canada.

The team arrived in Malawi on July 21st and spent the next three weeks working hand in hand with their partner organization, Cornerstone Ministries Malawi.

During their stay, they spent their early days mornings learning about Malawian culture and planning on how to precisely work out their time in Malawi. While afternoons were spent visiting homes of kids being helped by Cornerstone and also homes of camp leaders.

The visits were not without impact.

One of the camp leaders, Medwel, expressed his excitement at the visit of the Canadian fellows to his home: “It was the first time that a White person had visited my home. Both my parents and people in my community were astonished seeing my new friends in my neighborhood”, such is Medwel’s joy.

With the visits, many people had become aware of the activities and programs of Cornerstone Ministries in Salima.

The subsequent days were fun thrilled as Cornerstone’s three weeks summer camp rolled out.

The Ladner team was divided into two groups; one was helping teach at the Cornerstone Christian High School where youths aged between 12 and 20 were taught: Bible, Computer Discoveries, Science and Discovery, Crocheting, Tailoring and Design, and other several skills.

One of the teachers at the high school, Lucy hailed the presence of the Ladner team during the summer camp:

The other group helped at the kids’ summer camp where the Bible, Life skills, sports, music and arts, and crafts classes were run.

On his part, Cornerstone’s After-school program Director, Tionge Matangula relives all the memories of the Ubwenzi team:

On one Sunday, the team attended a church service at a local Presbyterian church where Cornerstone’s Director Danneck, is one of the leaders. The team also took time to appreciate God’s creation at the magnificent Lake Malawi before going on a safari to Zambia.

The team at Cornerstone still has fresh memories of the humility, selflessness, and love shown by the Ladner Baptist Church team and aspires to replicate the same as they work to touch the people of Salima with the message of hope in Christ.

When talent meets passion-Meet Emmanuel

Emmanuel’s first encounter with Cornerstone was in September 2016. Unlike many camp leaders who come to Cornerstone seeking a chance in the youth empowerment program, Emmanuel was called by a friend to help write some artistic message for a missionary team that was coming in a few days.

Impressed with the afternoon prayer devotions, he asked if he could be allowed to be attending the daily prayer devotions, a request that was granted.

Few days down the line, Emmanuel showed so much passion that he was given a role to be teaching Standard 6 at the after school program.

Within a short time, the whole camp had come to know him not just as a teacher, but a gifted artistic young man.

At 23, Emmanuel knows screen-printing, drawing, making arts and crafts, making shoes and slippers. Not only that, he is a talented music composer and singer.

Manzy
Emmanuel painting an artwork

With all the talent and skills, Emmanuel, a first born in a family of seven always dreamt of making more impact in his community. And coming to Cornerstone, was his first step.

He started teaching kids how to make arts and crafts and all the kids at the camp enjoy it.

Inspired by most leaders at Cornerstone who walked through the green terrain of African Bible Colleges, he applied for admission last year.

By the grace of God, he was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts program at the college.

Now in college, Emmanuel has a higher vision to reach out to his fellow youths through his talent and inspiring other youths through his testimony

Love in times of fear- Smith’s story

According to the global human rights body, Amnesty International, since November 2014, Malawi has seen a sharp increase in human rights abuses against people with albinism, including abductions, killings and grave robberies by individuals and criminal gangs.

At least 18 people have been killed and at least five have been abducted and remain missing. According to the Malawi Police Service, at least 69 cases involving crimes related to people with albinism have been reported since November 2014.

An aggravating sad story is told of teenager David Fletcher who went to watch football at a local ground but did not return that evening.  Days later, police confirmed that David’s body had been found in Mozambique with his hands and feet chopped off. David was last seen in the company of a colleague who disappeared along with him, who is still missing.

Due to this, many parents and guardians of children living with albinism have restricted the movement of their children.

When these attacks had just started, we were afraid that one of our Standard 4 kids, Smith would stop attending our camp.

But to our surprise, by the grace of God, nothing changed in regards to Smith’s coming to the after-school program.

 

Smith
Smith with his friends at the camp

The other encouragement was that the general aura in society was filled with some extent of isolation towards people living with albinism, but at the camp, all the kids showed so much love and support to Smith.

Seven year old Smith is one of the brightest kids at the camp. At homes he lives with his family of five. His mother runs a small tomato business which is not enough to support the family of seven.

And with his skin condition, Smith needs sensitive skin protection lotion which sells at around $15 but his family cannon afford it.

At a time when people living with albinism are being hunted and sold like animals, at Cornerstone, we aim to be a safe haven where they will find love, food, protection and care.