A Note from John 1/26/21

How important is education?

In America, education is the key to success, generally speaking. Education is highly correlated with income. An adult with only a high school education is 20 times more likely to receive welfare, and about 8 times more likely to be unable to work because of a disability. Indeed, a strong education system has been the backbone of the American Dream.

Of course, life is not only about money. But, as a rising tide lifts all boats, education lifts all of society in many ways. It reduces the need for welfare. It increases intergenerational mobility. In other words, a better education can lift a person out of poverty and into the middle class or upper class. Dr. Ben Carson is a good example, growing up in the slums yet becoming a brain surgeon. He even ran for President of the USA.

Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world and education has proven as one of the critical pathways to improving living conditions in the country. In 1994, primary school (grade school) was made free in Malawi. Because of the influx of an additional 1.4 million students, the quality of education has drastically decreased.  Only 35% of children complete grade school in Malawi, due to many factors. Children enroll and drop out frequently, primarily due to the need to work to support their family and because of marriage or contracting AIDS/HIV or other illness.

Furthermore, the teacher to student ratio is 1 to 130! It gets better as the grade increases, but Malawi has one of the worst teacher shortages. This is mostly due to the cost of hiring teachers. In Malawi, the rural villages must provide housing to their teachers, which is expensive. Poorly trained teachers is another problem. There is a shortage of teachers, classrooms, basic teaching materials, and so on.  In other words, Malawi children are practically denied the chance to learn under “normal” conditions.  83% of first-graders are unable to read even a single syllable and 92% fail to read a single word.

Beyond primary school, the Malawi government does not fully fund any other educational levels. Worse than that, 44% of preschoolers face undernourishment. How can they learn when they are hungry all day? Only 8% of Malawi children graduate from secondary school. A major contributor to this low completion rate is a lack of proper transportation to secondary facilities.

Today, the El-Shaddaih Orphanage has a resident, Patricia, who is a medical doctor doing her internship at a major hospital. That is what education can do for an orphan!! Just because she is an orphan does not mean she is unable to be educated. Many orphans are very smart and if given an opportunity, can accomplish anything they set as a goal.

We have been helping the El-Shaddaih Orphanage in Salima, Malawi, build a building that will double as a church and a school.  Our advice to the orphanage was to educate the children to break the cycle of poverty in the family, the community and the country. When the previous church building blew down in a violent storm, we decided to test God and build a building to accomplish amazing things.

We were also having trouble with unsafe conditions when the orphanage children would walk long distances to their schools. Since the orphanage was using the church building twice a day, and we needed a larger church building too, the answer seemed like a “no-brainer”.  An easy decision. A new building would also be a great outreach into the community. Now we have local families who want to bring their children to the school at the orphanage and there is interest from the locals to worship at the El-Shaddaih Orphanage church building.

This wonderful two-story brick building is in process today. The walls are up and we are ready to put on the roof and finish it. The cost of finishing the dual-purpose building is about $70,000. Because the children and their overseers made all the bricks at the orphanage, and helped dig all the footings, it reduced the cost of the building a lot. We are in need of the steel and beams for the roof, electrical and other finishing touches. This building will stand up to the storms and heavy use that we can expect over many years.

I hope you now have a good picture of education in Malawi and the opportunity we have to make a difference in the lives of the precious children at the El-Shaddaih Orphanage. I ask you to please think of how much you can donate to this cause. 100% of your donation will go to the orphanage. You can send your donation directly to the orphanage or send it through this website, US-based non-profit, Blessings for El-Shaddaih, Inc., so that you can get a tax deduction. Just click on the yellow and green “DONATE TODAY” button. We closely monitor the use of funds for its intended purpose.

We are making a difference in the country of Malawi and we have the attention of the new President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera. Once we have the building done, he will try to plan on attending the building dedication! I hope you will consider attending too.

James 1:27…..Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Please call or write to us if you have any questions. 

John Sklenar

712-830-6400

john@sklenar.com

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