In February, the first thing that we did was visit the project’s preschools. In Dowa, the province where we live, there are three preschools. We announced to the community that we will work with these preschools. We met the village chief, the preschool community chairperson, the members, and the volunteer teachers.
We started to monitor the preschools everyday and saw what the problems were. After monitoring a preschool for a week we found many problems to be solved, so we suggested a village meeting and held the meeting in each village. We brought some points about the preschool’s work and issues; about the porridge, uniforms, and the preschool community member’s work. We brought up the points and asked what they think, and how they will solve them. Those three meetings were our first time to mobilize and discus with the village people, so we were a little bit nervous but everything went very well.
After the first meetings we felt that it should be the village people who should hold the meeting. The DIs’ role is to attend and to give advice so they can think together, but not to lead the meeting because that’s their meeting not ours. We think that it’s good when the DIs hold the meeting, but the best way is to support the village people so they can hold the meetings by themselves. When the meeting comes from them they feel more responsible about it, so we emphasize to them this idea.
In March, when the second meeting was supposed to be held, LILAMBWE village announced to us that they were ready to hold that second meeting. When we attended that meeting, I was so encouraged by them. They organized the meeting and brought points that they discussed by themselves. We (DIs) just listened and gave advice and at the end of the meeting they choose the solutions and decided what they will do.
I thought this was a really good example of how the village meetings can be. I believe other villages can do the same. So now we highlight this to other villages that the meetings need to be held by them and solutions need to be from them. So this week (week 9) another two villages will also hold meetings. I hope it will be a nice meeting as well. Also this week, on Saturday, we will hold a “Preschool Meeting” with all our preschool’s teachers, preschool community members, and the chiefs, this will happen in DAPP’s Teacher Training College. That meeting is to see each other’s village and to discuss how they need to organize the work to run the preschools better. We will prepare the first meeting and we will suggest to them to continue these meetings by themselves.
Two of our preschool buildings are not proper, so now we are also building with the village people. We are organizing the work and how they will get materials. We, together with DAPP, will support with materials. To our surprise, on the 26th of March, LILAMBWE village came to DAPP, they brought some materials so they started the construction by themselves. We are really happy and we appreciate that people are so welcome and encouraged to work with us to develop the preschools together.