This is Henry. Maybe I should say Henry Bromelkamp because for the last two weeks in Malawi everyone has been using my full name because we've also been traveling with my Malawian friend Henry Solomon. Henry, if you ever read this, you can know that our travelers very much enjoyed your warm spirit and good humor and engaging discussions. I met Henry in 2005 at a wood carving shop on the top of Mount Zomba. He had dropped out of tenth grade for lack of school fees. In 2007 when I saw him again, we went looking for a secondary school for him to finish high school. Now he's a 22-year-old 11th grader at Zomba Catholic Secondary School, one of the best schools in Malawi. To put it in perspective, the school fees are $355 per year-- that includes instruction, books, and -- a year of room and board! It was hard to say goodbye to Henry yesterday when we sent him back to Zomba on the minibus.
We spent Saturday visiting schools built by CRECOM (sorry I'm going to forget what the acronym stands for, but it's about creating change from community action) in rural villages near Balaka, Malawi. One primary school was constructed with a room for a computer lab, with the intent that developing computer skills in young learners would be very beneficial for future learning. The school hasn't yet been connected to the power grid, and there are no computers yet, but the school is beautifully constructed and the head teacher is still hoping to complete the project. With CRECOM, the village is expected to provide the bricks and labor, then CRECOM finds a donor or the government to provide concrete, wooden roof trusses, and iron roofing sheets. Another school Maye has 1045 students with five teachers! The eleven nearby villages have already made hundreds of thousands of bricks, which were stacked in neat piles in the back of the school, awaiting resources for concrete and trusses and roofing. The headmaster Peter would very much like to have a sister school in Minnesota or California (our traveler Bridget is from Sacramento). Any ideas?