There’s an old quote attributed to Alexander the Great that so often resonates with the news and updates we receive from project partners in Africa:
I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.
African Leadership’s Community Investment program is broken down into five main project areas: Clean Water, Economic Freedom, Education, Health Care, and Orphan Care. But the more we communicate with partners on the ground and the more we witness initiatives firsthand, it becomes clear that whether labeled an education project or not, education is something that is woven into the fabric of every Community Investment project. It may not always look like brick-and-mortar primary schools or classrooms full of students, but the importance of teachers cannot be understated.
A report recently received from one of our projects in Malawi is a powerful testament to this. Emma*, a 14-year-old orphan living with her grandmother, shares her story with us:
We have new teachers at our school. They are really my parents. They listen to my problems and they help me to overcome obstacles I meet every day. Above all, I thank God for Mr. Chete who is our Head Master. I wish he was my father. I feel so safe and loved every day I see him. I am sure that he is sent by God to me to be my father. Since he came, we have been eating sweet porridge and sometimes we drink tea at school. He loves everybody as his own child. My teacher, Mr. Chirwa, is a wonderful man. I can now speak and write English. Mr. Chirwa encourages us to study hard. He always reads a Bible before us before we start learning. I like this because ever since I started learning from the Bible, I feel secured and happy with my life. Mr. Chete taught me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I now know that God loves me.
Teachers like Mr. Chirwa impart much more than just knowledge. We see it in a Kenyan Kiswahili and Music teacher at New Dawn who says part of her teaching strategy is “inculcating a feeling of equality among all students regardless of their tribe, social background, or standing.” We see it in the Lizulu Orphan Care Project when ex-orphans served by the program return to serve current children in the program.
This is the kind of education we aim for in African Leadership Community Investment programs, for it is the only kind of education that can handle the hard topics and hard places present in Africa. It is teachers, both those inside and outside the classroom, that ultimately ensure that Africa’s next generation is living well.
*Name changed for confidentiality.