Sunday, June 20, 2010

An Introduction to the Lives of Mtendere

We woke up bright and early on Friday morning at the Korean Garden Lodge, excited to spend the day at Mtendere Village. The village is set up with groups of children relatively close in age, each with a house mother to oversee their specific house. These caretakers range in age from twenty-five to fifty-five and are completely devoted to their children. These mothers are so thankful to have loving volunteers assist them at Mtendere Village. They are eager to learn, but we think in the end we will learn so much more from them.

We spent the day at Mtendere observing different aspects of the house mothers and staff members’ lives. The English 311 students were given the opportunity to observe how the caretakers learn in the classroom environment. The house mothers were learning about prepositions, which is about a 6th grade level in the United States. After class had ended, Brittney Troutner and Carrie Harvey were able to speak with the village’s lead teacher, Victor, about his teaching experience. He had taught 22 years in a government school and 9 years in a private school. We are impressed by his knowledge and passion for teaching. We have found that in any educational setting it is important to have strong relationships with colleagues because they could be a vital resource in your classroom. We will continue to reach out to Victor and the other teachers to meet the needs of this village. The students in English 311 will implement an after school Language Arts program created by Ruth Moll, our dependable graduate student that brings so much life to the group. This program was uniquely crafted to meet the Malawian educational standards and specific needs of the village based on Victor’s feedback given to last year’s BSU group. It is imperative to understand the community needs in order to conduct a successful classroom in which all children the opportunity to learn.

Another group of BSU students, along Dr. John Ambrosio, our wise and always curious professor, worked in the kitchen to help prepare lunch for the children. There are approximately 140 children living in Mtendere Village, so preparing meals is quite a task. Some of us chopped cabbage and tomatoes while others peeled onions. The kitchen did not work electrically and the cooking materials were run by a wood fire. There were pots as tall as a child in which cabbage and other foods were cooked. We were also taught how to make the traditional food of Malawi which is nsima (pronounced see-ma). Nsima is maize (corn) mixed with flour and is then boiled into a thick porage. It was stirred by one of the men working in the kitchen and it took an immense amount of strength. The children of Mtendere Village eat nsima for three meals a day and it is the most common food found throughout all of Malawi.


  1. How interesting!!! Thanks for giving us a peek into the life of the people of Mtendere Village.

  2. This is so cool to be able to 'virtually' visit the Malawi with you all. It is very interesting writing and I feel blessed to be able to read this.

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