It was 2011 and Donna Power was catching up with a friend who’d been overseas for 8 years.
It seems like a pretty normal occurrence – but the difference was that Donna’s friend was Sister Melissa Dwyer, a nun who’d been serving with the Canossian Daughters of Charity in the African nation of Malawi. She mentioned that the kindy attached to her convent was about to close down. The country is one of the world’s poorest, with the population being extremely vulnerable to food insecurity. In fact, just 2 years ago the UN categorised Malawi at the highest level of food crisis – meaning one in three people faced starvation.
On enquiring why the kindy was closing down Sr Dwyer responded that many of the parents could not afford the $4 per month fee. With the 40 children in the kindy needing only $160 per month to cover the fees Donna thought this was an achievable outcome.
“I’d just finished up a job which I’d been in for 10 years and I was looking for a new adventure. I thought 40 children at $4 a month is achievable, and I decided that this was going to be my new adventure.”
Donna recalls her amazement at the cost of sending a child in Malawi to kindy for a month, especially considering our lifestyle in Brisbane. Daycare costs in Brisbane average around the $100 per day mark, which is mind blowing when you consider a class of 40 kids in Malawi can be fed and educated for $160 per month!
Since 2011 the organisation has grown to the point where they now support 9 kindy’s and over 800 children per month. As a teacher and former school chaplain Donna is passionate about the outcomes that early education achieve in developing countries.
“Early years education in poverty stricken nations, is the most economic way to raise the standard of living. Investing in a child before school prepares them for school, and results in the families and communities valuing education. It also helps them succeed all the way through to tertiary education, and results in more active citizens and leaders.”
And on her first trip to Malawi last year, Donna found out the impact that the kindy’s were having, not only on the parents and children, but on villages as a whole.
“ The village chief spoke to us and he said – ‘no one visits us, we are the forgotten and neglected, but what you are doing us is remembering us and feeding our children, and for that we thank you’. When someone says that you realize why Jesus said reach out to the forgotten. How dare we forget these people who are suffering.”
To find out more about the work of Project Kindy check out the website www.projectkindy.com or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/projectkindy