Volunteers’ Stories: Christian
“I am thankful to RIPPLE Africa for providing this opportunity to me. It is amazing what has been achieved here in the last 10 years, such as the pre-schools, support of primary and secondary schools, healthcare facilities and, last but not least, more than 150 Malawians with a job and regular income.”
My name is Christian Beiner. I am a 50 year young engineer, married, and we have two daughters, 19 and 21 years. We live in south Germany at Lake Constance, close to Switzerland. I have a variety of international business experience in engineering, sales, service, leadership & management. My experience in Africa was limited to holidays in Namibia and business in Egypt. With support of my wife, I decided to take a break from business in 2013 and to bring in time and skills to support others who do not have the best opportunities and living condition.
I arrived in Malawi in early April. After Induction seeing the various projects in Healthcare, Education and Environment, including the well designed and professional run Changu Changu Moto project, I started to support Mwaya Primary School – working in the system and on the system.
The school has about 1,200 learners, 17 teachers and only eight classrooms plus two sheds. I give math and English lessons to Standard 6 students and also help the headmasters and teachers to organize, improve and manage the school.
It lacks on everything at school. The classes with more than 100 learners are much too large, the learners’ and the teachers’ timekeeping are ridiculous, the management of the school has a lot room for improvement and the teamwork of the teachers does not exist yet.
Together with Geoff, Maurice, the RIPPLE Africa School Coordinator, and Alick, the relatively new headmaster, we started working on these issues. We involved school committees and parents for supporting of the learners’ discipline, have regular teachers’ meetings highlighting good things and room for improvement, work on a new timetable where classes will be split into two, and develop with the Teacher Team and School Committees a Vision for the school and Guidelines for teachers, learners and parents. With the help of Morgan, a teacher from the UK, we also conducted teachers’ trainings.
We see some small progress, basically because the headmaster and some young teachers are keen to improve. It made fun. And finally, RIPPLE Africa decided to build two additional classrooms in order to be able to split most of the classes into two for the next academic year.
- Christian and Annod at Mwaya Beach
- Christian with some of the teachers and learners
- Trying out the new swing at a pre-school
As life in volunteer community is great, but there is much more to see in Malawi, I decided to take weekend breaks and visit the lovely Island of Likoma, some Lodges (Makuzi close to Chintheche is recommendable), Lilongwe, and for two weeks Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar.
It was a limited time for me here, but I am sure I made a small – hopefully lasting – difference and it was also valuable for myself.
I am thankful to RIPPLE Africa for providing this opportunity to me. It is amazing what has been achieved here in the last 10 years, such as the pre-schools, support of primary and secondary schools, healthcare facilities and, last but not least, more than 150 Malawians with a job and regular income.
It is worthwhile to get engaged in Mwaya and the other primary schools. There are clever learners, some very good teachers and most of the learners and teachers are eager to get support and very thankful. Just be patient, as time ticks different to Europe or US.
I am happy to discuss any ideas with future Education volunteers.
Christian (Volunteer, April 2013 – August 2013)