girls working in computer lab

Back To School!

Cambridge Exam Results Are In! 

In The Last Report We Talked About The Studious Standard Seven Class, And All Their Hard Work They Spent Preparing And Taking Their Exams.  The Results Are In – And All That Work Paid Off!  All The Students All Did Really Well, With The Whole Class Average Higher Than ‘Good’ In All Subjects. The Class Average For Mathematics Was 3.1, Science Was 4.0, And English 3.3. Each Section Is Based On A Score Of 0-6, With 6 Being Excellent, 3 Good, And 0 Poor.  Congratulations Standard Seven!

Busy Holiday ‘Break’

While the children were away for the holidays, the teachers and headmaster worked very hard getting ready for the new term. Construction was finished on the third building, the computer lab was set up, the library improved, the teachers went through computer training, and a new teacher was hired and trained.

Computer Lab Is Up and Running!

After receiving electricity last term, the school was able to set up the computer lab, for a second time. The computers were put into storage in 2010 when the school moved into their new location, without power. The school has done very well in the past three years – slowly finishing the classroom blocks, playground, bathrooms, office, library and computer lab.  Now that electricity is installed, the computers were taken out of storage and set up.

Unfortunately, only 12 of the computers are working right now.  The other 5 will not boot up, and have a problem with the capacitors.  BeeHive has found a way around this problem – when classes use the computers, they split up into two groups – half use the library, the other half the computers, then the students swap. There is plenty of space for more computers in the lab, so the school hopes to have more working ones soon!

The teachers did computer training over the holidays. Some of the newer teachers who started after 2010, when the computer lab got put away, had never used a computer, and there were some very funny moments in training!!

The children love using them.  They also have not spent much (if any) time using a computer, so they are enjoying learning and practicing their skills on them.

Library is Looking Good!

The library at BeeHive School was designed with reading in mind.  Big windows bring in natural light, and it is so inviting everyone wants to walk in, pick up a book, and read. The children are very good at following rules – one rule is the library is a quiet zone – it is amazing how quiet students can be when they are all deeply enthralled in books! Loads of shelves were kindly donated by the building company SR Nicholas (the company building reserve bank and Shoprite in Mzuzu). They were installed during the term break. The only thing a bit lacking are the books. BeeHive has quite a good collection, but more books are needed.

Construction

There are plans to build a student hall and entrance to the school.  Six trips of sand were brought to the school, and the school is in the process of finding a way to get more bricks.

Welcoming The New School Year

The good news about the exams and the improvements over the summer have helped the succesful start of a new term. This term welcomes 172 students and one new teacher. The teacher will teach Standard 7. This is great news for the headmaster, who has been teaching this class and running the school at the same time.  The headmaster is still going to teach Standard 7 English, and French to the whole school, but is excited to focus on administration and school development.

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new bookshelves in new library
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new library books
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old computer lab in need of new computers
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students using educational software in the computer lab

BeeHive Pupils Learning About Electricity

Electricity Is Installed at BeeHive School

In our last update, we mentioned that we were planning to install electricty, thanks to a generous donation from The ESC Foundation, a small German family foundation.  It was installed last month!

A Learning Opportunity

BeeHive School does not have much in the way of science equipment.  This is due to the budget being tight, because all the construction expenses the school has had recently, and being located in Mzuzu, where resources are scarce and science equipment is expensive.  Despite this lack of supplies, the teachers are creative and come up with many out-of-the-classroom learning experiences.  The students grow gardens, have made clay structures from clay in the ground, build towers and bridges from old newspaper, and go on field trips to local shops and the airport.  Although leaning through sitting in a classroom is important, BeeHive believes learning through experiences is also important in a child’s development.

When the electricity was installed last month, the teachers thought it was a great chance to do some hands on learning.  The Standard 6 class did a unit about electricity, learning all about currents, conductivity, and being safe around electricity.  Watching the electrician install the electricity was very exciting for all the students.  Many students do not have power at their homes.

Now that the electricity is installed, the school is eagerly waiting for the computer lab!

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Electricity Will Allow Computer Lab Open Soon

Electricity (and a computer lab!) Are Coming to BeeHive 

BeeHive School has recently received a generous donation from The ESCFoundation, a small German family foundation.  These funds will be used to install electricity in one of the school buildings.  The building has the offices, library, and a space for a computer lab.  As well as better lighting, the electricity will allow us to set the computer lab back up.  The teachers and students are excited to have the computer program back in the curriculum!

Computer Program
In June of 2008, two MIT students came to BeeHive School and helped set up a computer lab in BeeHive’s old location, a house the school rented.  The students brought 12 computers and a wealth of knowledge.  They set up the lab and taught the teachers basic computer skills, how to operate the lab, and teaching strategies.  Shortly after the lab was set up, Beehive students entered the lab with bright eyes and high expectations.  The program was successful and the students were able to learn basic computer skills such as mouse movements, keyboard typing, and file structure.  They engaged with educational games and learned basic programming.

The teachers also benefited from this lab, developing computer skills themselves.  They participated in teacher training programs and learned how to use computers as teaching tools.

When the school moved to its new location, the computers were placed into storage.  Now that the third building–which contains a room for the computers–is completed, the school is getting ready to set up the lab again and integrate computers back into the school curriculum.

Connecting to the Internet
The school also hopes to eventually connect to the Internet, which they have never experienced before.  This will benefit teachers and students for countless reasons, including having access to online resources, being able to communicate through e-mail, and being able to connect to others around the world.

Free online resources, such as Kahn Academy and resources from the British Council, will be incredibly helpful for teacher training, and student learning.  E-mailing the PTA, parents, and teachers will make communication much easier.  Connecting with other schools worldwide will also allow BeeHive School to enrich their curriculum and teach their students about other cultures.

Library & Lights
In addition to supporting the computer lab, Internet, and e-mails, electricity will greatly enhance the library.  The building was constructed with light in mind, and significant amount of light comes in the windows.  Despite that, it will be much easier for the students to read with additional lights on, especially when it’s dark outside.

A photocopier for the office would be also be useful, for worksheets, newsletters, etc, but the school does not have one right now. Unfortunately, in Malawi copiers cost around 800,000 kwacha (more than $2000), so they’re likely not going to be purchasing one soon.  Even so, having electricity will mean that if the school was able to obtain a copier, they would be able to use it.

We will update with photos once the work for the electricity is done!

This Holiday has been a Snowball of Love & Support

Dear Friends of BeeHive School,

BeeHive School has really been blessed with generosity this holiday season. There has been such an incredible outpouring of kindness – it has been a snowball of love and support. It is truly humbling. Thank you everyone! At this rate, we’ll have the final of the three buildings completed in no time.

A special thank you goes out to long-time BeeHive volunteer Katy Harrison for her fundraising support this holiday season.  Katy was the magic behind the school photodocumentary showing the construction progress of the classrooms at Beehive School (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku0epqdiGCQ&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL)

Thank You For Helping Build BeeHive School

Katy is also leading a very successful fundraising effort through Global Giving’s “gifts for good” campaign where people who donate more than $75 through the online Global Giving site receive a gift – a beautiful handmade necklace.  Katy found the necklaces on www.etsy.com, a website that is “a community of artists, creators, collectors, thinkers and doers” where people can sell things that they make.  The necklaces are gorgeous and very high quality – each made with unique African stones and beads.  This endeavour has been very successful and has raised $950 USD (142,500 kwacha) for BeeHive School, and there are three necklaces left.

The story behind the necklaces is quite special.  The US artist, Casey Hunt, started making necklaces to sell through her Etsy store as a way to raise money for micro-credit loans for people in Africa.  BeeHive volunteers Katy and Eva purchased 10 necklaces for the gifts for good campaign and Casey used that money to provide a Kiva loan to fund a group of women in Uganda that own a shoe store business – you can read all about it on her blog.  Katy and Eva also paid for the postage to send to the donors, so that way every donation given for a necklace goes directly to BeeHive School.  Casey’s connection to Africa runs very deep, as she and her husband adopted a son from Ethiopia.  You can read more about their journey here.

The ESC Foundation, a family foundation based in Germany, recently discovered BeeHive School and approached us with some very probing and detailed questions, which we were delighted to delve into.  After a thorough vetting of BeeHive’s mission and the intended use of the funds, the ESC Foundation donated €2000 ($2600 USD or 430,000 kwacha), which will be used to complete the third and final building.  Please join me in a “Ich bin Ihnen sehr dankbar” (I’m very grateful/thankful to you) to the ESC Foundation!!

Ryton Methodist Church, in Gateshead, England raised £738 ($1500 USD or 188,300 kwacha).  Special thanks to Judith Stoddart, along with David Stoddart, Amanda and David Baker, Reen Dunlop and others.  Judith writes “It was a pleasure. We love Chimzi dearly and would love her to come back after Christmas, so when we found out about your school building project it made sense for us to try and help out as much as we could. We have been given another £105 this morning and maybe more to come!”

A very special thanks goes out to school teacher Debbie Watts who is a primary school teacher in the US’ Department of Defense and is currently based in the UK.  In the UK, it’s customary for students and their parents to give a Christmas gift to their teacher, but this year, Debbie decided that what she wanted more than anything else was support for Beehive School.

Debbie writes:

“The group of children I teach every day–your children–make my job so rewarding. I get to do useful work that I enjoy with people I like. I feel so lucky.

I know how generous these children, and you, their parents, are. I know many of my students this year plan to bring me a little something special to show their appreciation. Every year I receive lovely, thoughtful Christmas presents. And I am so thankful for the gesture and the gifts.

But I look around my schoolroom and my home–it’s filled with so many wonderful things. As Americans, we are blessed to have too much abundance in our lives. I truly cannot think of another thing I need or want. The gifts that would mean the most this year are gifts for others.”

Her generosity is amazing and BeeHive has received many donations from the staff and parents at her school.

People all over the world are reaching out to help BeeHive and this support doesn’t just come in the form of financial donations.  Architect Rowan Haysom donated his talent, time, and expertise to design the BeeHive School buildings.  From his website:

“The design for a new primary school in Mzuzu, Malawi. The construction is based on locally available materials and appropriate technologies. These include natural passive heating and cooling devices, sun dried bricks, load bearing masonry construction, etc. The plan demarcates layers of transition from the public to the private realm, with the hall and library open to the public past the control of the admin hub. The classrooms are beyond a further transitional layer, placed in a cloistered arrangement. The external spaces are as important as the internal rooms, and together create an intimate, protected and safe learning environment.”http://www.haysomwardmiller.co.uk/page1/page7/page32/page32.html

Niall, the staff and students of BeeHive are overwhelmed with the generosity of all these kind people around the world.  For anyone still trying to decide where to invest their hard earned dollar this year – please consider BeeHive School.  With a little more help we’ll have the buildings completed by the end of 2012 – making it possible for over twice the number of students to attend school in safe structures (As many of you recall – the old school buildings were at maximum capacity and BeeHive was forced to turn away students.  The old structures themselves were also structurally unsafe).

Thank You Everyone!  And a very Happy Holidays from everyone here at BeeHive School.

Warmly,
Eva Markiewicz and Katy Harrison
Beehive School Volunteers

p.s.  Have you seen the latest photos of the school garden!  The students collect rain water to cultivate their plots.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150413629209139.364265.271055084138&type=3

Perlton Edwin and Kenneth Malema

A Bright & Cheerful Holiday Newsletter

Dear BeeHive Community,

BeeHive wishes you a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US.
Thank you for your past support and encouragement.  This newsletter has some fun updates – don’t miss the short video that Katy put together! – we think you will find it inspiring and by the end you’ll have a smile on your face.
Malawi has had a rough 2011.  In July, the UK cut aid to the country after a disagreement with Malawi’s government.  This lead to tragic riots in the capital and also in Mzuzu, which ended with 98 serious injuries and 18 people dead.  Although BeeHive students were exposed to the rioting and had family and friends affected by the riots – we were very fortunate that none of them were physically injured.  In fact, BeeHive students have continued to flourish despite the chaos around them.
All the students at BeeHive School received high marks in their exams this year.  Two students did exceptionally well.  Perlton Edwin and Kenneth Malema got the highest and second highest grades in the whole of Malawi for the Cambridge Primary exams.  These exams test their knowledge of English, math, and science, and ensure that they are ready to move onto secondary school.  Perlton and Kenneth attended the Cambridge Outstanding Learners Achievement Awards, at Bedir School in Blantyre, to receive their awards.  This photo shows Perlton receiving his award from the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, and the British Council Regional Director for Southern Africa.
Over in the US, we have been raising funds to help finish the construction of the school.  During the summer, BeeHive volunteers Katy Harrison and Abe Downey camped and rode their tandem bike 3,000 kilometers across Europe, from Budapest to Holland, while raising awareness and funds for the school.
BeeHive School is still part of the internationally recognized Global Giving.  In order to partner with them, we undergo rigorous compliance checks, including site visits from Global Giving representatives to monitor progress and make sure that we stay true to our goals.  Global Giving has also been a great site to raise awareness and get others involved in the school.  For the holidays we are part of their ‘Gifts for Good’ campaign.
When you donate $75 to the school through this program, you will receive a hand-made necklace made with African beads as a thank you (for more info please contact:info@beehiveschool.com).  We have commissioned a US artist, Casey Hunt, to make these beautiful necklaces.  Casey is inspired by nature and uses African beads made from glass, wood, shells, pearls or stone. Each necklace is unique and has sterling silver clasps.  All funds raised will go to completing the the last section of the school including the library and assembly hall.
Construction is progressing quickly with only 1/3 left to go.  The classrooms and some toilets were finished earlier this year, allowing students to attend class in the new buildings.  In August the playground was complete, and is of course hugely popular.  The children love the slide, climbing gym, swings and even a sand box – a rare luxury in Malawi.  You can check out the progress yourself in this video:
http://beehiveschool.smugmug.com/gallery/19959116_RrLCZK#1598826543_tSFgs7G-A-LB
 
In October the school held ‘Open Day’ where parents got to go to school with their children.  Parents sat in class, had snacks at break-time, then attended a meeting and questions.  Niall, the founder and principal, said it was a fantastic day with very encouraging feedback from the parents.  These events help parents engage more actively in their children’s education.  Also, during Open Day the PTA raised 14,000 Kwacha ($85 USD).  In a country where a dinner at a very nice restaurant is $2 USD, this is a very significant contribution!

We have also been working with the Apricot Project, a group starting a new way to micro-finance scholarships for children around the world.  They are using BeeHive School as one of their partners while they test out their beta website and get the kinks ironed out.  We hope to have a few BeeHive students on scholarships from the Apricot Project soon.  Find out more about the Apricot Project here:

http://www.facebook.com/apricotproject?sk=info

Thank you again for donating to BeeHive School and continue to stay in touch. Your involvement has been very important in making BeeHive what it is today.

On behalf of BeeHive School,

Eva and Katy


The BeeHive School Website:
www.beehiveschool.com

Find us on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/BeeHiveSchool

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY4ilS1Gx1c

Partners with ASAP Africa
http://www.asapafrica.org/

US Postal Address:
Beehive School Building Fund c/o Katy Harrison
833 Sonia Way
Mountain View CA 94040
USA

Malawi Postal Address:
Beehive School
PO Box 831
Mzuzu
MALAWI

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Much Progress and Great News From BeeHive!

We have lots of good news to report from BeeHive School!

First off, along with four other schools in Malawi, BeeHive entered the “British Council Exams” and all of BeeHive’s students passed with flying colors! In fact, BeeHive’s students did the very best, beating out every other school in Malawi. BeeHive prepares their students to compete on an international level.

Niall Dorey, BeeHive’s founder, director, teacher, and handy-man, was lucky enough to host his old University friends that came to support Niall and BeeHive through their toughest times. Niall had a lovely time and is looking forward to their next visit.

Now for some really big and exciting news – The second of three planned sections of the new school are now complete and BeeHive is hoping to be back up to 150 students! Niall has promised to send photos and asks everyone to keep sending good thoughts across the pond.

For more photos of the construction progress, please check out our website: http://photos.beehiveschool.com/Other/construction/12083217_M66ta#858324315_nNnMx

and here: http://www.facebook.com/BeeHiveSchool?v=photos

Stephen and Maureen Dorey, BeeHive’s biggest champions (and Niall’s parents) organized a “Scottish Dance” fundraiser with the assistance of their daughter, Claire. It was an incredible success! They raised £470 for Beehive School, which will go to the last of three sections for the new school! Thank you to all those lively spirits who kicked up their heals and really got the party going! Thanks on behalf of every BeeHive supporter for your generosity and kindness!

And last, but definitely not least, the Ministry of Education performed another inspection of the new buildings and BeeHive passed with flying colors – in fact, the inspector said that Beehive was a model structure and that they would be sending more people to visit to see what a well-built and safe school should look like. Niall and BeeHive are finally able to breathe easier knowing the the school is up-to-code.

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A Visit to the Beehive Primary School

By Troy Smith – In-the-Field Traveler

Everyone has his or her own view of determination. For me it’s always been Rudy, the scrappy kid who ditches the steel plant to follow his dream of Notre Dame football stardom. I mean, come on. At the end, when his whole family is there and everyone is chanting, that’s just classic. If you don’t tear up I’m pretty sure you don’t have a heart. Sean Astin, a tip of the hat to you. For some people perseverance and determination is Mandela, King, or that guy who cut off his own arm to escape from underneath that boulder (come on, you all definitely remember). However, it is pretty rare that one encounters that kind of person firsthand; a person who is literally putting everything they have, heart and soul, into one, singular goal. When I arrived in Mzuzu, Malawi I admit I hadn’t done my research. I knew I was visiting a primary school called the Beehive School, and that they had encountered some trouble as of late. Aside from that, I was pretty much in the dark.

What I found when I arrived was a man who had been worked to the core, had been run ragged, and yet still was keeping his chin up. Before I even heard his story, I knew Niall Dorey had faced some tough times. He moved a bit slow, looked a bit tired, and yet seemed completely anxious to get to school the next morning. The Beehive School was founded following Niall’s experience teaching in a local Malawian private school in the early 2000s. Faced with overcrowded classrooms, unmotivated teachers, and overall lack of proper infrastructure, Niall decided to act. “The school I was teaching in was supposed to be the best in the Northern Region, but I thought these kids were missing out on something. I thought I could make a school that was so much better.” Starting with eight students, and using a room of his own home, Niall Dorey officially started the Beehive School. The school quickly grew to a massive 210 students, all decked out in their construction orange dress shirts and black ties. Classrooms and a playground were constructed, the operation expanded, and the Doreys moved into a new home. The school was even complete with a library and a computer lab. There were definitely some busy bees at Beehive, but for the Ministry of Education, the honey left a bitter taste. Lacking proper licensing, and possessing “temporary structures” (which more often than not, were better than the facilities at local schools), Beehive was ordered to close in November 2009; this the very day they were approved for a parcel of land on which to build the permanent structures. Unsure of what to do, feeling completely hopeless, Niall tried to negotiate with the Ministry of Education, but was met only with negativity. Pressured by others, Beehive went to court. While the court battle was ultimately unsuccessful, it did allow them a stay of closure.

 

Two sessions later, however, they were closed yet again. Crushed and defeated, it seemed Beehive would simply be a dream lost by the wayside. However, the dream still lives on. With the help of some dedicated parents, Niall was able to collect funds and hastily finish construction on one classroom block at the new site. It is simple, no frills, but it is indeed a permanent structure They must split the school sessions–grades 1-4 in the morning, 5-6 in the afternoon. The walls are all blank, the blackboard has been painted onto the wall, and there’s a bit of condensation coming through the windows; but it’s a school, and a pretty good one at that. If one were to have any doubt about Niall’s passion and love for these children, they need only see him at work in the classroom. Niall has had to adopt a first grade class as his own due to staff shortages, but still he puts everything he has into molding those little, at times a bit hyperactive, minds. However, the work isn’t done. Construction on the second block is still underway, and the Dorey clan is working hard to ensure that everything about Beehive is up to code (there is quite a lot to the Malawian School Codes, just trust me, it’s pretty unbelievable). Niall’s wife, Constance, has been a rock during the entire ordeal, single-handedly lifting bags upon bags of concrete for construction, at times acting as the brawn to Niall’s more soft-spoken nature. The two, with their three beautiful children, earn couple-of-the-year in my eyes. While the stress may be overwhelming, and the staff members may be dwindling, I have no doubt in my mind that Niall Dorey will succeed and accomplish his ultimate goal—a proper education for Malawian children, and a beautiful school on a red clay hill. “I’m going to build this school, no matter what. I want this school, the parents want this school, the children of Mzuzu need this school. (Niall Dorey) Troy Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is currently an In-the-Field traveler visiting GlobalGiving projects throughout Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Follow his trip at http://troygivesglobal.tumblr.com/.