Supporting children attending Shine Early Years

Today in Malawi one million orphaned children living in poverty, lack food and shelter, and with limited health, social care and education, they suffer abuse and sadly many die do not make it to their 5th birthday but succumb the impact of preventable and curable diseases.

Stunted physical development is evident amongst half of all children under 5 yrs old due to lack of proper nutrition and limited access to healthcare.

Primary schools education in Malawi is very basic, lacking the most fundamental resources, including textbooks basic teaching materials and electricity.

According to UNESCO, 20% of children often repeat one or more school years, several times. In addition rates for drop-outs are extremely high, as only 58% of children will complete a full course of primary school.

Early Years programmes are essential as they encourage the education of children in preparation for primary school.

According to the United Nations research, almost half of Malawi’s 5.9 million children under the age of 5 are malnourished and for most children school starts at the age of six – or sometimes even later. With families preoccupied with the search for food, children are often kept at home to work on the land.

Children, who miss out on pre-school interactions, find it very difficult to adapt to the school environment. Lacking social skills and a limited vocabulary, they quickly fall behind in the large classes, and subsequently, perform below their potential throughout their school-life.

With classes numbering between 150-200 children often give up on their education before their 12th birthday.

Since 2010, the Shine Early Years group has been touching the lives of hundreds of children in Malawi. Shine Village, which is situated in the heart of rural Kuntumanji, in the Zomba District of Southern Malawi, hosts the areas largest pre-school group. Here some of the most vulnerable children, from nearby villages, arrive each day to a welcoming smile, and enjoy a vibrant programme of reading, writing, lots of play, traditional singing and dancing, finished with a shared meal of porridge and fruit. For some children, this may be the only meal which they receive that day.

Making a difference

Sponsorship ensures a child receives the foundational pre-school education, which is essential to prepare them for primary school.

Children who attend pre-school find it easier to socialise with their peers and teachers when they start primary school.

Support for all the family.

Our Early Years group forms an important part of the orphan care support network, which is slowly growing across the area. Guardians of the children attending our groups may often be a single mother or even a child themselves. Families traumatised by the loss of parents or loved ones, and living with the daily challenges of extreme poverty, are able to find help and support at Shine Village. Shine workers assess the health and security of children, identifying urgent needs, providing essential provisions, and improvements to dilapidated homes, common in our area.

At Shine Village we love to celebrate each child’s achievements and each year we hold two events, which give an opportunity for the children to showcase all they have learned before parents and guests! The older ones, who are ready for big school, say a special goodbye to the group and receive a certificate and a small gift.

Christmas is also a time of celebration; with party treats and a visit from Shine’s Pastor; the children have opportunity to reflect the stories of Jesus shared throughout the year.

Sustainable ongoing support

Shine Village stands on eight acres of land, which produces crops to help to feed children. As the project grows, the surplus grown will help to sustain developments at Shine Village and across the region, providing teacher training, as well as farming, sandal and mat making, and other income-generating projects, which benefit the whole community.

Shine Afterschool Club, which meets each day at Shine Centre, is available to children attending primary school. Children can receive the support, which they may not find at home and continue to build their social skills, with plenty of time for fun afterward in our playground!