Waking up to the call of a rooster was a gentle reminder of how different life is here in Malawi. We started our first day at breakfast together reading a passage of scripture and talking through the message’s impact during our time here. The verse was reflective of the power of love through hospitality and selfless care for one another. Love was a keyword that stood out to me today becoming very real as we journeyed through the Villages. Culturally, Malawians are different in plenty of ways; however, love joins us together and in the end makes us much more similar than I realized.
The first trip we made was to the Chimpeni Primary School. Our Land Cruiser rolled up catching the eyes of students as they began racing towards us with gleaming smiles. As we piled out of the truck, they were bursting with excitement and curiosity about our visit. The VIP staff gave us a throughout tour of the grounds along with a great overview of the school’s progress since construction. This progression was a clear demonstration of how villages partner together with American “villages” through selfless care and giving. I was blown away by how much progress has been made since the first structure was completed in 2012 thanks to our VIP supporters. In Malawi, the average teacher to student ratio is 1 teacher to 100 students. Here, the average was closer to 1 teacher to 40 students creating a more productive work environment. Our teacher housing at the school along with solar lighting retains more teachers contributing to this success. The passion from them along with the students was noticed immediately after stepping into the first classroom.
During our visit, they radiated happiness and graciously thanked us for the work VIP contributed to enhance education in Malawi. Every teacher greeted us separately with warm smiles asking for our names and welcoming us to the school. Malawians have an incredible way of making you feel so welcomed and appreciated. Experiencing the classrooms in person was so eye opening to me. A common question the teachers asked students was what they wanted to be when they grow up. Individually, students responded saying doctors, police office, teachers, and so on. Through VIP’s love, we really are able to make dreams come true for these students. The scripture we read on paper this morning came to life in person today and helped me to shift my focus to the life-changing impact of love, hospitality and selfless care for others. First hand I was able to witness the transforming love from VIP reflected onto this community.