David, past district governor for district 5020, started by giving an introduction to the high school project in Malawi.  The project is supported by over 20 Rotary clubs, Rotaract clubs and Interact clubs.  Malawi is known to be the warm heart of Africa with the Africa’s third largest fresh water lake – Lake Malawi that goes 750 feet below sea level.

The project was founded by 2 passionate teachers, one from Victoria from her volunteer teaching experience in Malawi back in year 2000.  The APU high school was completed in year 2008. APU means Attsikana Pa Ulendo (English: Girls On The Move).   

The purpose of the school is to help girls living in the rural areas to get educated and APU is a school for these girls.  Although there are many girls in Malawi that would like to go to the school, only 80 are accepted in a year.  The graduates from the school ranks in the top 2-3% in Malawi.

Maness was the first class to graduate from the APU high school in June 2011 and she is now studying at the Pearson College in Victoria with a scholarship.  She is very grateful for the chance she had to attend the APU high school and to come to Canada.  Coming from a poor family in Malawi, her parents are farmers and the lack of financial resources had kept her from even thinking about getting past primary education when she was young.

Even for some families with financial resources, the male-dominated culture in Malawi has made families to only send their sons to school leaving the girls at home to do housework.  It’s common for girls to get married at a young age of only 14 to 15 and sometimes sold to rich men for money as in the tragic case of Maness’ cousin who got married young to a man who had married twice already and became HIV positive.

Maness noted that the school gives the girls choice and a voice.  She showed pictures of some of her classmates and how much happier they look at graduation compared to first day of school. Education also changed the way how these girls are looked at by their families – Maness’ father never listened to Maness before she went to school but now he is listening to her.

Maness would like to finish her education here in Canada and go back to Malawi to help change the country.  “Move forward by giving back.”