At Malawi Children’s Mission in southeastern Africa, schoolchildren don’t have desks and are educated for as little as $25 a year.
Students at Binghamton University hosted a dance marathon on Saturday, Feb. 10, raising almost $500 for the Malawi Children’s Mission, which aims to provide private primary schooling for students from impoverished areas.
Malawi Children’s Mission provides schooling for more than 60 students and provides meals for close to 160 children. The school plans to use the money to buy classroom materials and add an additional grade level to better prepare the students for jobs after they graduate.
Liz Cottle, an organizer of the event and a junior double-majoring in business administration and psychology, traveled to Blantyre, Malawi in summer 2017 with other BU students through the Office of International Education and Global Initiatives. Students in the program took a class at the University about community-based asset development, followed by a three-week trip to work at Malawi Children’s Mission. There, students organized a range of projects with the children, including career development activities and arts and crafts.
Each of the students on the trip took part in a different project. Bryana Snyder, an organizer of the dance marathon and a senior majoring in human development, worked with Cottle in providing career development for the children, as well as with helping the caregivers at the school launch a soup business.
Cottle said the pair hoped to use the dance marathon as a way to continue to impact those they helped during the summer.
“We did tons of things with them and fell in love, so planning this event was kind of our way of keeping in touch with them,” Cottle said.
For $5, students could take part in the marathon, which featured a performance by African dance student group Uyai Nnua, free food for all who attended and games, such as life-size Hungry Hungry Hippos. The raffles included gift cards and apparel from local restaurants, such as Sake Tumi, Texas Roadhouse, Outback Steakhouse, Binghamton Hots and Lost Dog Cafe. They also got donations from a local church that one of the students attends.
Members of BU’s Circle K chapter, a community service group, also helped out at the event. Sam Marsh, a member of Circle K and an undeclared freshman, signed people in and handed out raffle tickets at the door.
“It really is just essential that we come out here and support them and donate to this cause because other people in other countries don’t have the advantages that we do,” Marsh said.
Members of Helping Chintsa, an organization at BU that aims to help the small South African village of Chintsa, also came to support the school. Jack Halotek, a member of Helping Chintsa and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience, said it’s important that students are aware of issues outside of Binghamton.
“I mean, it’s always good to be cognizant of the struggles that people are going through around the world and doing the most to help them,” Halotek said. “I think that we come from a place of privilege and we should use that privilege to benefit those people.”
Margaret Leisenheimer, a junior majoring in theatre, said she was excited to attend the event and contribute to the school’s development.
“I think that it’s really awesome to come together and raise money for an awesome cause through something that’s fun and enjoyable for everyone to get involved with,” Leisenheimer said.