Children, teachers, government and tribal leaders had been praying for help for the Waya Primary School in the village of Chimbwi, Malawi, in southeastern Africa.
Without enough functioning classrooms, students were forced to meet either in a dilapidated building or under a large mango tree in the school yard. Lessons were interrupted or even canceled because of heat, rain or other distractions.
Humanitarian missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints showed up, answering that prayer for help. Not long after, the Church funded the construction of eight new classrooms and teacher preparation areas, reported the Church’s Africa Newsroom. The school also received new desks and textbooks.
More than 500 people — including government and tribal leaders — attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the village on Sept. 26 for the new school. The celebration included traditional drumming, costumed dancers and performances from the students.
Leinhard Amos, who was president of the Church’s Lilongwe Malawi District at the time, said teaching and learning under a tree is “not that easy to both the teacher and the learner.”
“These new facilities will bless the lives of the learners and the teachers,” he said.
Africa Newsroom explained that education is difficult to achieve in rural Malawi. Most rural residents are subsistence farmers and resources are scarce for formal education. Some students decide not to go to school because of the infrastructure challenges.
Mphatso Boti, a member of the Malawian Parliament, said that many girls aged 12 and older drop out of school because of the awkwardness of sitting on the ground wearing a dress. Therefore, the new classrooms and desks will help relieve this concern.
Government leaders said the new school represents hope for the future of the children of Chimbwi and surrounding villages. And since the new classrooms were built, enrollment at the school has increased by over 30 percent.
“If you look around, this is the most beautiful building we have in this area, and that actually motivates students to come to school and to be in this kind of environment. Therefore, the school has seen an increase in enrollment,” Boti said.
Fifteen-year-old student James Samuel said “the school is very beautiful” and that he “feels really good” when he sees it.
President Amos, who now serves as first counselor in the Zambia Lusaka Mission presidency, said it is the wish of every parent to see their children go to a good school, and both parents and students will be proud of the new infrastructure.
“Those who are leaders today, both in the Church and the community, were once young,” he said. “If we can catch or teach them while they are young, the future of the Church and the country will be bright.”