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What have we done?

Our 6 main achievements in our community to date are:
  1. Far and Wide Children's Home
  2. Australian Secondary School
  3. Australian Primary School
  4. Mothers and Babies Health Centre
  5. Cantlay Nursery School
  6. Bright Stars Primary School
1. Far and Wide Children's Home 
Searchlight Orphan Care runs 3 children’s homes; San Michel, Malawi House and Far & Wide Children’s Home. Far & Wide Children’s Home, the principal centre, is located in Kambona and was opened in 2005 in response to problems evident in the local community.  15 orphans are currently cared for at the centre. They are given comfortable shelter, 3 meals a day, taught in Bright Stars Primary School and Kambona Nursery School and are provided with many things such as clothes, blankets, soaps and sporting equipment (a bicycle, footballs, rugby ball, rounders equipment etc). We look after them as well as we would our own children. The volunteer home is located very near to the orphanage so the children benefit from being played with and taught by the volunteers. We plan to increase the number of orphans cared for at the centre to 50 in the next 3 years.      

2. The Australian Secondary School
The Australian Secondary School, located in Kambona, was opened in 2007. It was funded by The Australian Aids Fund Incorporated. The school has earned the reputation of being the best institution in the district and producing very bright students.It is the greatest achievement of Searchlight Orphan Care. 

There are 296 students attending the school. The school fees are extremely low and 50 of the students are orphans who are studying free of any charge. The school employs several teachers full time so is able to offer Forms 1 to 4, making it a full secondary school. It gives students the chance to study for both the Junior Certificate and the Malawi Certificate of Education, the highest school qualification available and a prerequisite for attending University.There are only 3 other secondary schools in the entire Phalombe district and all of these are a great distance from Kambona so the school has opened up the possibility of education our community.                                       

The school has become a central hub in the community, bringing people together and fostering a strong community spirit. The school has many extracurricular activities such as the football team, netball team and SCOM (Student Charity Organisation of Malawi). The football team is a great example of this, as everyone in the community gathers together to support them and watch them play.

3. The Australian Primary School 

Australian Primary School located in Msema village was opened in 2006 by the Australian High Commissioner to Malawi, His Excellency Jonathan Sheppard. It was funded by the Australian Government's Overseas Development Agency. The need for a local school was clear. Prior to 2006 the nearest school was 5 kilometers away in Nasiyaya. This made it very difficult for local children to attend school, particularly in the rainy season when the walk became dangerous and unfeasible. This meant very few children were going to school and those that were usually dropped out altogether in the rainy season.

The school has been a success, catering for 500 pupils aged 6 to 11 in Grades 1 to 5. The number of children enrolled in school has increased every year and next year there will be 800 children attending the school in Grades 1 to 8, making it a full primary school. The government has recently sent 2 teachers to the school to enable this expansion.

Pupils who graduate from Grade 8 will then be given the opportunity to continue their education in the Australian Secondary School. The school has given many more children the opportunity for a primary school education and, combined with the opportunity to join the secondary school, improved the chances of many more local children receiving a full education. 

4. Mothers and Babies Health Centre

The Mothers and Babies Health Centre opened in April 2006. It is situated in Msema village and offers mothers the opportunity to learn how to take care of their babies and themselves. The mothers are educated in a wide range of issues. They are taught about sanitation, hygiene and the importance of keeping their house clean. They learn about medical issues such as AIDs and malaria and are given demonstrations in First Aid. HIV-AIDs is given particular emphasis and a lot of work is done on educating the women and raising awareness in the fight against this deadly disease. They are given access to medical books, kits and useful items such as mosquito nets, bandages and ointments. There is a kitchen where they can learn to cook and are taught about nutrition and how to provide their child with a balanced diet. Regular visits are made to the mother’s homes to ensure all the messages are being taken in and to provide any additional support.

The centre has proved very successful, stimulating a great change in the lives of mothers and babies in the community.  The number of mothers at the centre has increased from 72 when it first opened to over 180 today. Several of the mothers helped at the centre are now working here, teaching the new mothers and babies, making the centre more sustainable. The success of the centre has recently been reflected by the choice of the local government to choose the centre as a vaccination site.

5. Cantlay Nursery School

The Cantlay Nursery School was opened in 2008. There are 80 students currently enrolled, ranging from 3 to 5 years old. The school gives the children a head start when they get to primary school and gets them involved in education from a very early age. It gives them something to keep them busy and their minds and bodies engaged.

They are cared for at the school and given porridge in the morning. The opportunity to learn English from the volunteers at such an early age gives them a great start. The children are encouraged to go to primary school when they are 6 years old and they will join Bright Stars Primary School when it officially opens. This link combined with the link with Australian Secondary School will mean local children will have access to a thorough education. 

6. Bright Stars Primary School

Bright Stars Primary School is a new project that we started work on towards the end of 2008. We hope to open the school later this year. It will be located in Kambona next to the Far & Wide Children’s Home. The School currently caters for 20 children in Grade 1 & 2 who are taught in a yard outside the unfinished school.

The capacity of the school will increase to 600 when the school officially opens and there will be Grades 1 to 8 available. The school will be located very close to the Australian Secondary School and will act as a feeder school.