Saturday, 23 September 2017

Henley Rotary Club

THE work of a small charity initiated by a physics graduate from Manchester University was the subject of a fascinating talk at the club’s “twilight” meeting on at the Red Lion Hotel on Tuesday last week.

The speaker was Ginny Ifould, from Blewbury, whose daughter Lucy, also a graduate from Manchester, is one of the volunteers for the Mlambe Project, an initiative to build two new schoolrooms for an isolated village school in Malawi, 19km from the nearest Tarmac road.

Currently 545 children are enrolled at the Mlambe Primary School in Chikolongo, starting their education at six years old.

Primary education in Malawi continues until year 8 at the age of 14 but the school only has enough accommodation for those up to year 6.

When they reach 12, the children have to walk 10km twice a day to attend classes to complete their primary education.

Mrs Ifould described how Jamie Proctor, the co-founder of the project back in 2012 with his fellow physics students, had come across a bat-infested rundown school in the remote village and decided to raise funds for its refurbishment.

They raised and spent £40,000, often with the assistance of Rotary Clubs in the UK and the local knowledge of Rotarians from the Mlambe club.

Although much of the school was built with conventional bricks, the team discovered a less expensive way of construction, known as “earthbag building”, using something similar to the sandbags we use during flooding.

The expertise which the local people gained in the construction means that they will be able to help projects in other villages.

Mrs Ifould emphasised that the project had equipped people with the skills they need and had produced a new heart for the village, now with a football pitch, which the adults also used.

Her daughter Lucy has been out there for 18 months and Mrs Ifould herself hopes to visit in October.

The project became a charity in 2015 and funds are now being sought for the current extension.

Peter Thomson proposed the vote of thanks.

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