Malawi Montessori Teacher Training

Dear Family and Friends,
This is one of the most beautiful things we have ever been honored to be a part of! We alternate between crying, laughing, and bursting out with outrageous joy. We are feel honored to be a part of the creation of this Montessori school and to have the opportunity to train these committed teachers.

The classroom is complete and we have finished three days of intensive teacher training. Laura, Lindsay and I taught practical life, sensorial, and math the first three days and Rose, Kim and Eileen will teach cultural studies and language arts next week. We have 14 teachers in the training and each day since we have begun more teachers have come. We have had to turn them away, some in tears, because they hadn’t been clear about the start time.

We promised another training sometime in September or October. Do you hear that my Montessori teaching friends??? My public school teaching friends??? I am not training alone, so you better visit! Resource a school, an educational community, and hang out with me in Malawi, Africa. Hey, I can’t think of a better way for you to spend a couple weeks in September, December, April, or early June. I am taking sign ups right now! Each person on the team is using their special gifts and contributing so much. Brice, Josh, and Josh Yeager are building and wrecking things, depending upon the project (smile). Patty, Rose, and Caitlyn have been irreplaceable as our set up crew. Sarah and Jean have orchestrated all the tasks behind the scene that it takes to put on a six day training. They have prepared the environment, greeted and built relationships with all the teachers, and prepared the meals.

There is such a hunger for teacher training here. Our Malawian teachers in training are so focused, taking detailed notes, and participating fully in all the lessons. I have been shocked at the speed and accuracy of their learning. I still cannot believe we are here, that we brought an entire Montessori classroom with us in our luggage, that we have set it up at the orphanage and are now training in this beautiful classroom. As I type this I am completely moved by how extraordinary this is and the magnitude of what is being accomplished in such a short time. You are all part of this accomplishment. I will share a couple of memories from the training and then you can see the pictures below.

On Thursday we shared some songs that we sing with the children during circle. Then we asked the Malawian teachers in training if they would like to share some traditional songs with us. One of the teachers had Josh’s guitar that he brought and began to lead everyone in song. In 10 seconds we were all on our feet, singing and dancing around the entire classroom to the most heavenly music I have ever heard. I looked at Laura and we both started to cry. Music comes out of their souls here. It was as if the angels in heaven were singing. We sang, clapped, laughed, and danced for 15 minutes together- one community, one people- we became family in that moment. We love you all! We thank you for supporting us to make a difference for these children and our Montessori teacher in training.
Love,Maribeth
P.S. Part of our team went on a short Safari to see the beauty of Malawi. We will add pics soon.

Our Beautiful Malawi Adventure

Dear Friends and Family,

Thank you for all your love, support, and encouragement! We are having the adventure of our lives and experiencing the most remarkable things! Our interactions with the children and families here in Malawi is changing our hearts and minds. Everyone here on staff at the Acts III Children’s Home has supported us greatly in accomplishing our goals. The classroom is half way completed and we start teacher training with 8 women on Wednesday.

Our classroom is beautiful, with hand-made shelves, colorful mats on the floor, Malawian baskets holding all the Montessori materials. We forgot our sandpaper numerals, so Lindsay, with the help of our carpenter, is making a set. Kim Yeager, who made all the Montessori cultural curriculum, bought beads to make more colored-bead stairs for math even before we left.

With Kim and Rose’s energy, we should be setting up four classrooms (smile). Here are some of the things I will never forget.

Watching Caitlin and Rose interact with about 15 young Malawian children outside the Children’s Home gate at dusk. Caitlin had the children draw pictures in her journal and write their names. Rose took pictures and showed the children what they looked like. (We have never seen a mirror yet. Many children have never seen their own face.) As the sun set, Rose brought out glow sticks-neon red, green, blue, yellow- and handed them to the children. You would have thought we had given them money. They laughed and waved them in the air in the dark. So grateful for the little gift.

I will never forget Lindsay and I running down the dirt path (my first jog in Malawi). Weaving through bikers, cars, and women carrying huge baskets of sugar cane. What a brave soul you are Lindsay! Thanks! No one exercises in Malawi, because their whole day is spent in hard labour. Yet they are the most gracious and grateful people. I will never forget Josh Yeager and his interactions with Gabrielle, the three year old son of Bosco, one of our pastors overseeing the project. A gentle hand upon his little shoulder. His gentleness, love, and guidance was so moving. You are a great big brother, Josh! I am so proud of you. Josh Jolly and Brice, laughing and hanging out 24/7 and hanging off the side of every truck-Eating sugar cane everywhere we go and still having room for pizza and icecream! No to mention all your hard work moving bricks and bringing sand up from the river. Patty Underwood reading the book of Joshua outloud to me when I was lying in my bed with a backache. Falling asleep to Joshua. Patty, you are the most beautiful soul! Thank you for all your acts of love.

The team planting a garden at the top of the property. The expressions on Jean, Eileen, Laura, and Sarah’s face as we walked through the town of NDirande( our neighboring town)and talked and laughed with the throngs of kids that surrounded us. Beautiful children, six year olds, carrying their baby sisters and brothers,so thin,with torn clothing and no shoes. They did not want anything, but to be with us. That was their joy. Their names- Owen, Charles, Gift, Promise, Esther, etc. There are 20,000+ orphans in NDirande. It is heart breaking when you see their beautiful smiles. Seems to me like we can do more in America to make a difference for children everywhere. We have accomplished much so far as a team.

Our plans for the next week is to finish the classroom, begin teacher training on Wednesday (6 days in all), visit schools in the surrounding area, go out to the children on the street and put on plays and do puppet theater, and start soccer games. Everyone in this community has made us feel so welcomed.

Thank you to all our American family and friends for your love and prayers. We seek to make you proud and accomplish much for the children.

Love, A Proud Team Leader, Maribeth

We Have Arrived!

Dear Friends and Family,

We have arrived safely and in great spirits to Blantyre, Malawi! After a 34 hour journey, we spent our first night in the Children’s Home sleeping under blue nets and listening to the sounds of Africa. We were welcomed warmly. Randy and the pastors loaded our 36+ pieces of luggage with school materials on a flatbed truck to journey to the Children Home. The boys in our group had the thrilling experience of riding on the back on the top of the luggage. We are grateful that all of our luggage arrived safely.

The Children’s Home is still under construction, but it is beautiful and well-designed. Our rooms were decorated warmly with woven grass mats, baskets, candles, and African fabric window coverings. We feel completely at home! Today we had a walking tour of NDirande, the village nextdoor to the Children’s Home. We walked along winding dirt paths with simple brick homes. The smell of burning wood and spices from the open market filled the air. The children flocked around us and giggled at seeing their pictures in our cameras. Their great joy and gratefulness despite their poor conditions, moved us to tears. We practiced our Chichewa. The children loved it and laughed at our attempts to speak their language. We hope to have a picture for youshortly.

So many remarkable people made this trip possible for us! THANK YOU! We are taking you on this journey with us. We will be setting up the classroom this week and we have eight teachers so far interested in being trained next week. The weather is a beautiful 70 degrees and sunny.

If you would like to contact us, please call one of our two cell phone numbers (between 6 a.m.-7 a.m. California time) 011-265-5-700-290 or 011-265-9-432-036. Please check with your long distance carrier before call. It will cost you between $1-$6 per minute depending upon your long distance carrier. Or you can post your comments here on our blog!

Love,
The Malawi Montessori Project Team