Researcher: Lindsay Miller
Kwenje Village is based in the Balaka district, less than two kilometres from Wilderness’ Mvuu Camp in the Liwonde National Park. As a very remote district, the local people have very limited access to education, resources and capital. With the help of non-profit organisation, H.E.L.P. Malawi (Hope, Educate, Love and Protect) and Children in the Wilderness the area has been much improved with a couple of schools and community projects in progress.
As there are no libraries or educational centres within a four-hour radius of the Balaka district, H.E.L.P approached the Wilderness Wildlife Trust in order help fund the construction of a library where all citizens of the area have access to materials of higher education, including books in technology, agriculture/permaculture, education, health, and conservation – all of which are useful and practical for this particular community. Children who have attended Children in the Wilderness programmes will also be welcome to make use of the library, furthering their knowledge and skills attained at the various camps.
With increased and improved education, this will broaden horizons for students and the local people as a whole in the hope to build brighter futures – some using their land and others finding gainful employment with Wilderness or elsewhere.
Providing education and training for local people and their communities is a core objective of the Wilderness Wildlife Trust.
The students have begun utilizing the books and materials and are all very excited and proud to have such a facility. The official opening ceremony will take place in the next couple of months.
We are coming along well, within our timeline of the grant. We have completed all interior shelving and painting and are now working to transport books and get them on the shelves by the end of January. The increasing fuel shortage and our lack of a vehicle has hindered this process, but we are moving forward. We have secured some books and are awaiting forthcoming shipments. This library will be available to our 850 students at Nanthomba and to a catchment area, including Children in the Wilderness, of over 17,000 community members. Attached is a photo of our library and the work in progress.
The first few phases of the project were completed earlier in the year which included the construction of the building.
Phases 4 and 5 started in October 2011. These phases undertook furnishing and instalment of benches, tables, bookshelves, desks, and chairs and finally the provision of over 100 books and reference materials.
The Trust funded books on technology, agriculture/permaculture, and education, health including HIV/AIDS, conservation and endangered species. All of these are important subjects for the surrounding communities. The Trust also included books on Malawi and the local languages as well as English – an imperative language for those wishing to pursue a career in tourism among others.