Volunteer Jenny Hamerstadt writes about her humbling experience at one Pre-School in Malawi.
I was invited to the Mwaya Preschool graduation ceremony on 11th July, 2016. I didn’t realize how important the event was until I heard a parent stand up and give a speech. I also didn’t realize that I was an honoured guest because I was a volunteer with RIPPLE. I was very humbled; after all, I have only been in Malawi for a month. I have done so little in the scheme of things, yet here I was representing RIPPLE Africa. It impressed upon me that everything I do while I am here, every action I take, every word I say, is a reflection on RIPPLE.
The parent went on to thank RIPPLE for everything that they do for the community and the children. He was very aware and appreciative of the fact that his child would not have a preschool to attend if not for RIPPLE. He knows that every child in that room will have better opportunities in life because of the education that they are receiving at this young age. I wish every volunteer and employee of RIPPLE could have been there.
After the ceremony, the teachers served a meal to the parents, guests and pre-schoolers. I was again humbled when I was handed a full plate of rice and vegetables. I sat on the bench with the large serving of food and looked around at the room full of children. My eyes then gazed on the scores of hungry primary students who had gathered at the windows and doors to watch the festivities, all hoping to get a taste of the food that had been served. I had been honoured with this gift of delicious food and knew that it would be disrespectful not to eat it, but everybody in and out and of that room needed it more than I. I made myself eat about half of it and then sat there wondering what to do. How can I possibly choose who gets the food when there are so many who need it? How can I give it to only a few when there are so many?
I waited for the crowd to dwindle and finally went out to the kitchen and held it up to Rebecca, one of the preschool teachers. She looked at the plate and then looked at me. I said, “I can’t do it. There are so many children.” She looked around at the children and then back to me, and I could tell that she understood my struggle. She said, “So many children. What can anyone do?” I knew that I, the white woman, could not be the one to give the food away, so I handed the plate to her and walked away. As I turned, I saw her get a spoon and tell the children to line up. I wish I could help them all.
That memory, as well as many others, will remain with me forever. RIPPLE Africa is not only impacting the people of Malawi, it is also changing the lives and viewpoints of all of us who are lucky enough to get involved.
Take a look at Pre-School Education; what we have achieved, how we work and the project’s future.