Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Angella Chizimba
Malcolm X once said that when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We,’ even illness becomes wellness. This quote runs deep in my soul when I think about the Coronavirus pandemic. It has helped me realize that togetherness is a key factor when it comes to well-being. We need to work together to fight and contain the Coronavirus. We should all be committed to breaking the information gap and helping communities get through the situation. It is no news that the pandemic has hit the world with the hardest blow. Jobs, schools, and businesses have all been affected. While we are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, an important issue with consequences perhaps less visible right now is continued access to education for children.
According to Save the Children, 120,000,000 children in east, west and central Africa are currently at home because of the Coronavirus. In trying to fight the pandemic, most countries have closed primary, secondary and high education institutions affecting almost three quarters of all enrolled learners. This education shutdown tests our resilience, creativity and resourcefulness. We must stop and think of what will happen for the country’s most vulnerable who cannot access technology or the Internet, which is being advocated for right now. The change is more likely to widen the learning gap between children from lower income households and those from higher income households.
I have taken the initiative to teach primary school children that live within my community. Seeing these children play in the compound every day from morning to evening, pushed me to take this initiative to help them learn, and at the same time trying as much as possible to stay safe. These children represent the big percentage of children in rural communities across the globe. Children who have no access to technology, internet or printed materials to serve as guides in their studies. I am teaching them at home while observing social distance and getting them into a habit of washing hands. Every day when the children come through for lessons, they first wash their hands with soap. They sit at a distance from each other and wait for class to begin.
I know how desperate the need for education can be during this period, but I also know from my own experience how good it feels to help someone. I have found purpose and joy in teaching these children. I wake up every morning looking forward to another purposeful day. My students ask me “Madam, when are we going back to school?” I have to tell them every day that this is what we have to do to ensure everyone’s safety. So let us learn to stay safe first.
No matter how hard the situation is during this period, there is still room for generosity. We all have something we can render to the rural communities. Where we are is where our home is and teaching children at home during this crisis is one of the best gifts we can share with the world. We all learn from others every day and surely there is something others can learn from us, for “we all are teachers” in some way.