Our dedicated volunteer Chloe describes her first trip to the Malaika School:
After over a year of working closely with Noëlla, the different members that make up our team of exceptional volunteers and the hardworking staff at Malaika School, I was finally able to make the trip all the way to the rural village of Kalebuka.We drove down the dusty dirt road to the school and I took a tour of the classrooms before the girls had arrived. But I could feel the energy in the air already, almost as if the walls were buzzing of the sounds of an active classroom full of young minds. I was instantly impressed by the entire school staff. Nothing would be possible without them. It is an understatement to say that I have been inspired by their work ethic, their commitment and the chemistry they have with the school.
Among many things, I spent the week visiting Malaika’s wide network of supporters. It seemed as if the entire town had welcomed us into their arms. The school stands about 30 mins drive from the city center, but the entire community is part of it. Their is such a sense of local ownership, responsibility and respect. It must always be a mutual effort, to have the involvement of the local community completely changes the dynamic of a non-profit initiative like this. It becomes more than a charitable gift, but rather a group project.
It was almost as if I was seeing old friends after a long absence. I recognized the faces of the girls as they came walking through the gate skipping and holding hands, wearing their crisp new blue and white school uniforms. All the colors come together at the school in such a powerful way. The bright multi-colored chairs in the classrooms, the pictures on the walls, the deep red of the clay bricks, the bright whites of their eyes as the girls gaze intently at their teacher at the front of the room. Each one has such a passion for life, such a purpose that was searching for an outlet, and its here, at these desks and in this playground that they will discover who they truly are. To me, the most powerful lesson, above multiplication tables and the ABC’s, is finding out who you really are in the world. And the gift of being able to thrive as that person – there is no greater gift in life than that.
Noëlla and Malaika have given me a similar opportunity. I grew up in Africa and my father spent his childhood years in a small town just a few hours away from the School. Although I live what seems a lifetime away in New York City, I never forget what the true source of my passion is. I was reconnected with a powerful opportunity to immerse myself in what I love most. I cant say thank you enough for giving me a chance to breath it all in for myself.
Holly’s Sport for Africa program is something that I have been passionate about for some time. I am deeply moved by sports and run marathons as a hobby. Running such long distances can be daunting, intimidating and painful. I often fail along the way and I often want to quit. The challenges we face in pursuing the most perfect version of ourselves is what defines us. Developing the Malaika School from a single brick to the campus that stands tall above the trees was surely a challenge and we continue to face obstacles. But more than ever, we have been graced with the generosity and compassion of so many individuals across the world. Each step forward is a step in the right direction, a step towards a greater achievement that will last long after the race is over.