Empowering Congolese Girls and Their Communities Through Education
The Malaika School in Kalebuka, DRC, opened its doors in September, 2011, to an inaugural class of 104 kindergarten and first grade girls. In September, 2012, two classes were added, bringing total enrollment at the School to 152 girls. For the 2017-18 school year, Malaika is educating 280 girls. We plan to increase enrollment each year until reaching our final goal of 350 girls.
Our private school is based on the Belgian and Congolese school systems, providing a holistic learning experience completely free of charge, including uniforms, shoes, school supplies and two healthy meals a day. Rising food prices have made it very difficult for the community to meet the daily nutrition requirements, however the Malaika School is committed to ensuring a well-balanced diet, not only to encourage an engaged student body and prevent absences due to malnutrition-related illnesses, but also because Malaika strongly believes that nutrition is a huge part of the development of the girls. Additional precautions have been taken to sustain the well-being of each of our girls by providing them with four essential vaccinations each. Our vision is to eliminate the barriers that prevent so many girls from exercising their right to a quality education, impeding their capacity to lead.
I had always wanted to give back to the DRC as I have prior experience with the country and recognized that, although it faces many challenges, it is populated by such lovely people. I specifically became involved with Malaika because, upon studying the operation and operators, I was convinced it was a well-run project with a high likelihood of success. I met the team in the early stages of the Malaika School and very quickly concluded that they were hard-working and determined individuals who were intent on completing this project and ensuring that the students’ lives were enriched and changed forever, through education. It is the goal of my foundation to support a class A project run by class A operators. After visiting Kalebuka in 2017 and seeing the projects firsthand, I am convinced that this is what I found in Malaika.
Malaika is dedicated to advancing African communities through investing in the education of girls. Our community-centered approach, which integrates the family unit, is key to our success. We greatly value the support and contributions that the people of Kalebuka have made towards our work, such as actively participating in the School’s construction, helping to maintain the School, helping with security in and around the campus, and attending adult education courses taught by our staff. By empowering the community on a grassroots level to take part in their own development, we are creating a sustainable model for progress.
We are currently developing a school horticulture (permaculture) project focused on subsistence production. The produce we yield will be used to make nutritious meals for students at the School. It will also serve as a learning tool for students and community members, enhancing the School’s holistic learning experience.