Exam and Graduation Fever in Malawi

Christie sent the following report from APU Malawi where she will be attending the girls’ first graduation. This is an exciting time for all involved with the school.:

After picking me up from the airport, Henry and I toured the grounds where Madonna’s school was supposed to me.  It is bare ground, without even the start of any foundations for buildings.  All that was done was that the land was cleared of vegetation and levelled where the buildings were meant to me.  Now it is just a barren field. Truly sad. Memory, Henry and I are having a wonderful time together, the little boys are absolutely adorable (it was Teloni’s birthday yesterday and I made a chocolate cake over a charcoal burner outside), and the APU girls are truly incredible.    I’ve taken photos of all of them already and am spending time in the evenings chatting with them.  These girls are truly amazing and it is clear that they are receiving excellent instruction.  I’ve met all of the teachers, attended a PTA meeting and made an impromptu speech, and helped Memory conduct the examinations as part of the next intake of Form 1 girls. 

The Form 2 girls started their JC Exams on Monday and I have taken photos of the set up, the body search (conducted by Memory and another female teacher) conducted on each girl as they enter, as well as the police security.  They are writing their exams in the newly constructed cafeteria which is a most impressive building.  Everyone who comes onto APU property is in awe of the buildings, the girls and their ability and confidence in speaking English, the cleanliness of the grounds, and the air of excitement and happiness that surrounds the place.  I have been told again and again that this school is unlike any other school in the country.  Henry and Memory are working very hard keeping the labourers, teachers and students in line, preparing for graduation, conducting the national exams, etc.  Their list of responsibilities is just enormous but they are clearly up to the task. 

Memory and Henry and their staff are thrilled with the diploma’s, the pins, the programs, the graduation caps, and the awards that I brought with me.  Although the graduation is meant to be an invitation-only event, we are quite concerned the there might be many many people unassociated with the school ‘crashing the party’ because there is such a buzz about the school!
Over the next few days I will be working with Maness, Angella and Blandina to fill out their student visa applications.  I brought all of the paperwork required from both Pearson and the Northern Lights College (Dawson Creek) and their passports are ready, so it should be quite straightforward.  On Friday, Memory, Henry and I will be visiting two Teachers’ Training Colleges that are near Lilongwe to ask the many questions that we have regarding this next potential project.  We are also working with all of the girls to practice forming the letters ‘GIRLS ON THE MOVE’ on the sports field so that when the helicopter comes to take aerial photographs we can also video the girls waving at their sponsors in formation.  It is great fun to work with the girls as they have an amazing sense of humor and are very playful – a wonderful contrast to the young girls you typically find in the villages. 


For the moment, construction at APU has been put on hold as the girls write their exams, as we don’t want them disturbed by the noise.  The cafeteria is completely finished and the electric pots are in full use.  The science lab is about 80% complete, and the Class Block that was damaged in the windstorm has been repaired and is back in use.  The hostels and staff houses are in excellent shape.  The water system and electrical systems seem to be very solid and are working beautifully.  This is my 8th extended trip in Malawi and it is my very first time sleeping in a bed, having hot showers (or any showers at all!), and using electrical lights rather than candles and flashlights.  The standard of living at APU is truly excellent – many of the teachers are saying that they are more comfortable at APU than they are in town.

Take good care everyone and thanks for your continued work with APU. 
This is truly an amazing thing that we are part of. 


Christie Johnson
Co-founder and Executive Director
Atsikana Pa Ulendo (Girls on the Move) Malawi Education Foundation
650 Pearson College Dr.
Victoria, BC    V9C 4H7


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