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Hurricane Update

On Oct 17, 2014 a devastating storm with winds of 55-74 MPH & hail the size of golf balls devastated the school tearing off most of the roofs, destroying the playground, ripping down the fences, tumbling down a brick wall, and drenching all the books in the library leaving most unusable. We urgently need your help to fix the damage and get the school back up and running. The total cost of repairs is estimated at $15k. We have raised $5k through stalwart donors, but are still in need of $10k.

Positive Thoughts

Although the library, computer lab and new construction took a large beating, we need to look on the positive side of the situation.

No one was hurt. Children were at home, and the teachers managed to shelter.

Most of the laptops are safe and some books were saved. The teachers worked hard at rescuing books and laptops. You can see them drying out here:
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Disruption to classes is minimal. Children were able to attend school the next week. They no longer have a library, books or computer lab, but teachers and students are doing very well learning with what they have.

Reconstruction

Time, energy and finances will be needed to rebuild. Work has already started on cleaning up the damage, and the school has started thinking about how to fix the roof in a way to stop this from happening again. Please consider donating to help the school rebuild.

Hurricane At BeeHive School

Yesterday afternoon a disaster struck BeeHive School. The school was hit by a hurricane and torrential rain and the roof of the Library and Computer Room has come down. Books and computers are soaked.

Luckily, no one was hurt. Children were not at the school at the time it hit, and the teachers were having a meeting in the library. They managed to shelter and stay safe until the winds died down.

It rained all night. Niall, the headmaster, is going to the school today to assess the damage. We will update with photos and more information later.

School will be closed next week.

Giving Back to the Community of Mzuzu

BeeHive student giving donation to patient
BeeHive student giving donation to patient

Standard 5 Class Raises and Gives Donations To Hospital Patients

BeeHive Standard 5 students (about 12 yrs old) wanted to give back to the Mzuzu community. They decided to collect donations for patients at the local hospital. The students managed to collect five big boxes of donations. They sorted and organized the items into care packages and then visited the hospital and personally handed them to the patients. The patients really enjoyed having the students visit and were very happy at the kind and thoughtful gesture. The students enjoyed giving back to their community.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. If you have a lot, do something…if you have a little, do something…everyone has some way or something that they can contribute to the community.

Way to go Standard 5!

Standard 5 class with their collected donations
Standard 5 class with their collected donations
In the Mzuzu hospital
In the Mzuzu hospital
Students and hospital staff
Students and hospital staff
Patients were happy to see the students
Patients were happy to see the students
Outside the pediatrics unit
Outside the pediatrics unit

New Computer Lab At BeeHive!

This lab was possible because of many kind people across the world. Thanks to everyone who advised, contributed financially and worked hard volunteering in the US and in Mzuzu. We cannot thank everyone enough!!

Setting Up The Lab


IT expert Israel visited Malawi and set up the computer lab this past July. We shipped some of the equipment, including the keyboards and mice, but Israel managed to carry three large suitcases full of the chromebook laptops with Educational Ebuntu installed on them, plus a router, the raspberry pi, and some hard drives.

After arriving to Mzuzu, Israel and Niall worked tirelessly getting everything up and running, ready for teacher training in a few weeks.

Teacher Training

Mikala, an experienced high school computer science teacher and Stanford graduate student studying education and technology, volunteered at BeeHive School this summer and taught the teachers how to use the laptops for administrative purposes and how to teach effectively with the computers. Using a computer is a new experience for many of these teachers. She is working on documentation that BeeHive, and other schools, can use to train their teachers and teach their students how to use computers, with and without the internet.

Student Training

On the first day of the new school term, the students were excited to enter the new computer lab, with enough computers for every student in a class to use their own! Before the students could use the computers, they learned the basic rules of the computer lab and how to use the new laptops.

Soon, the students were discovering and learning independently on the new laptops. The students and teachers are very happy to have the new computer lab!

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A Closer Look at BeeHive School

We recently went through a rigorous application process to become a field partner for a start-up.  This provided us with a good opportunity to crystallize what BeeHive School provides for their students and the larger community.  I hope you enjoy this thoughful discussion.

Mission:  Through education, BeeHive School is nurturing future Malawian leaders and innovators who will one day tackle the most severe problems faced in Malawi. Through a holistic model towards education BeeHive has been able to deliver top-quality education at a nominal cost.

Key Features of BeeHive School:

– Continual Teacher Training and Mentorship Program:  The cornerstone to Niall Dorey’s success has been his teacher training program.  Niall hand-picks individuals with a high potential for growth and learning to become teachers at BeeHive School.  Through the program, teachers learn to implement a more holistic approach to education whereby the students are viewed as human beings and encouraged to participate actively in class through discussions, asking lots of questions, and fearlessly attacking new material.  This is counter-cultural in Malawi where corporal punishment is still the norm and students in most traditional classroom settings are expected to be quiet and “seen, but not heard.”  Niall trains teachers in advanced conflict resolution and non-violent discipline striving to make student’s infractions a learning opportunity. Niall meets regularly with teachers individually and as a group to discuss challenges as they arise and provide a forum through which teachers can continually reflect, learn, and grow. BeeHive’s teachers are known to be the best in the area and are often approached by expensive private schools that are able to offer substantial salary increases.  Niall takes this in stride, hoping that even though BeeHive is continually faced with the challenge of training new teachers, that in the end at least the entire region benefits from BeeHive’s novel teacher training program.

– Holistic Education: Niall strives to help students grow and mature in areas beyond academics.  Unlike most schools in the area, BeeHive provides sports, music, drama, field-trips, art classes, computer training, projects in entrepreneurship, and attracts volunteer teachers from around the world to share their skills with the students.

– Educating Girls:  Unlike many private schools in the region, BeeHive strives to be gender-balanced and attract and educate girls.  Expectations and aspirations for their female students are set equally high to those of boys.  Female students at BeeHive school continue onto secondary school just like the boys – this is not the case at most other schools.

– Malawian Teachers for Malawian Students: – Niall strives to select and train teachers of local ethnicity, so that BeeHive students can fully identify with their teachers.  Many other private schools import teachers from Europe and wealthier African countries making it difficult for students to fully connect and identify with their teachers.  Teachers are highly respected in Malawi and are seen as being at the top of the social hierarchy, so having teachers of local ethnicity helps students develop a sense of pride and set high expectations for themselves because they see that their teachers are able to accomplish so much.

– Diversity:  BeeHive School is ethnically, culturally, and religiously diverse – tolerance for all people and ways of thinking is integral to the philosophy at BeeHive.  BeeHive School attracts many children from visiting professionals in the area including professionals working with NGOs, emerging businesses, manufacturing, health aid workers, and missions.  This provides all the students with the opportunity to interact with other students and families with different beliefs and world views, this teaches the students about having understanding, respect, and curiosity for other opinions and cultures.

– International Volunteers:  BeeHive encourages volunteers from all over the world to visit the school.  This is not only a unique opportunity for the volunteer, but also for the student.  Meeting high-achieving volunteers from American and European Universities inspires the children to dream big and opens their eyes to the world of opportunities available to them if they commit to their studies. It also opens them up to other world views and helps them feel comfortable interacting with people from different cultures.

– Affordability:  BeeHive School’s legal status in Malawi is that of a not-for-profit. BeeHive School strives to keep costs low in order to make the school accessible to as many students as possible.  BeeHive charges $200 per term whereas other private schools charge $1000 per term on the high end and $500 per term on average.  Most lower-cost private schools are in the $3-400 range and BeeHive is well below that.  BeeHive used to be at $70 USD per term, but due to the need to build new classrooms, BeeHive had to raise costs to $200 per term.  BeeHive hopes to lower the cost once the classrooms are complete.  Currently about 50% of the school fees go towards operating expenses and the other 50% towards completing construction of the new school buildings.

– Computer Education:  BeeHive is one of the few schools in Malawi that has a computer lab and computer training for their students thanks to the efforts of Justin Cannon – an MIT student that visited BeeHive School in 2008 and installed a computer lab.  Students are taught basic computer skills like using a mouse, typing, basic programming, the concept behind searching for information, etc.  This early interaction with computers will be invaluable in bridging the digital divide as the internet and effectively using technology becomes pervasive and instrumental in every workplace.

– Other:  Teaching language in the national language – English.  Children can speak their local dialects at recess, but they must speak English in the classroom. Since English is quickly becoming the standard for international business and scientific communication, this is very valuable for the students.

Secondary Affects:

– Strengthens the middle class of Mzuzu because it provides a top-quality school where the middle class can send their children.  A common problem in Malawi is small business owners and entrepreneurs exit the country in search of quality education for their children.  This has a ripple affect by which the economy fails to grow and jobs are lost.  BeeHive is providing a strong motivator for small business owners to stay in Malawi.

– By strengthening the middle class, BeeHive is also contributing to fostering civil society and strengthening democracy.  It is also helping to build the local economy both directly by employing teachers and staff and indirectly by helping attract and keep high-value community and economic leaders.

– BeeHive School is becoming a feeder school for emerging secondary schools and Mzuzu University.

– Combating “brain drain” on Africa – a trend by which the most educated people, including teachers, business leaders, etc. leave the country in search for superior personal opportunities for themselves and their families.

Katy & Abe with their trusty stead - a Tandem Bike

Katy and Abe’s 3000 Mile Tandem Tour de Europe

Summer is finally here and BeeHive’s volunteers have been brainstorming ideas to help this very special school on the other side of the world.

Currently, BeeHive’s buildings are under construction with only 1/3 left to complete! With some classrooms still under construction, the completed classrooms are being shared. The school day is split into two shifts, with the younger students taking class in the morning and the older ones in the afternoon. This is working so far, but it’s taking a substantial toll on the teachers and staff and BeeHive is anxious to finish construction. Two long-time supporters of BeeHive School – Katy and Abe – are dedicating their entire summer to help BeeHive complete construction.

Katy and Abe are taking a break from life as usual and hitting the road in the name of adventure and philanthropy. The adventure will involve pedaling and camping through Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland on a tandem bicycle. They’re hoping to raise awareness and funds for BeeHive School – a primary school in Mzuzu, Malawi. Malawi is located in South Eastern Africa and is one of the poorest countries in the world.

Katy and Abe are planning to ride 3000 miles and their goal is to raise $1 per mile.

They are currently in Italy and have been enjoying centuries old ruins, gelato, vineyards, and pasta.  You can dive into their week-by-week adventures on their personal blog:

http://katyandabe.com/

You can also see where they’ve been and where they’re headed on their bike tour through this really cool map complete with photos and posts.  Katy and Abe are currently in Italy and making their way to Hungary.

http://trackmytour.com/3678

Thank You for supporting BeeHive School and Katy and Abe on their marvelous adventure!  Happy riding to all this summer!

( p.s.  Niall Dorey, the founder and director of BeeHive School, has been working hard to get ADSL internet installed, so that he can send more photo and video updates for us all to enjoy.  We’re hoping to have more photos of construction by the end of the summer.  If you are headed to Malawi this summer – then why not take advantage of the opportunity to spend a couple of days at BeeHive and help us collect some photos and videos of BeeHive School.  You can take advantage of your time in Northern Malawi to also visit Lake Malawi and Nkhata Bay – I’m sure Niall has some recommendations for fun spots off-the-beaten track. )

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Links:

A nearly completed building

A Short Update on Construction at BeeHive

Dear BeeHive Supporters,

Sorry for taking so long to post a new update, but communication with our field partners has been minimal, since the internet connection has been down for Niall.  A new connection should be established soon, so we’ll have pictures and hopefully even video headed your way soon.

We recently sent over $1000 USD, which at the current currency exchange rate works out to about 131000 kwqacha.  These funds came in the nick of time as construction at BeeHive School is still in full-swing.  They are working on the administration block, library, and computer room.  The funds went straight into cement, which is surprisingly expensive in Malawi.  Since Malawi is an under-developed nation certain materials which we take for granted in the United States are actually quite expensive.  As a point of comparison, $100 USD can buy you 6000 bricks in Malawi, but it will only buy you a few bags of cement.  Bricks are locally produced and there is a large market, therefore they are competitively priced.  Cement, wood, and glass are harder to come by and thus more costly.

Niall has taken some video with the small HD camcorder Katy, Spencer, and Eva bought him as a Christmas gift.  Since his internet connection is so slow we can’t transfer the files online.  We have sent him a few USB memory flash drives and he will be sending those our way soon.  Unfortunately it can take anywhere from 1-3 month to mail packages from Mzuzu.  But you can look forward to those videos in the coming months!

I didn’t want to leave you all hanging, so I have included some photos from Troy Smith who visited the school a few months ago.

In some other news – a few of our volunteers are planning fundraisers in the form of garage sales soon when the spring comes, so if you’re interested in hosting one contact us at info@beehiveschool.com for suggestions.

Niall also reports that the school is looking fantastic and he’s excited to upload photos once he can get access to a good internet connection.  He encourages all his friends and supporters to come visit soon!

We will never be able to say it enough – but Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to all our BeeHive supporters.  It’s because of your unwavering support that BeeHive has been able to weather all the challenges over the past couple of years and build a truly remarkable new school that will safely house generations of students to come.

Warmly,

Eva Markiewicz on behalf of The BeeHive School Team

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