Caterham school’s cake sale for schoolchildren in Malawi

From building wells to supplying sanitary packs, computers and sports equipment, the UK/Malawi partnership is ‘mutually beneficial’

Children, staff, and parents at Essendene Lodge School raised £660 to support Msalura Primary School in Salima, Malawi, adding to the thousands of pounds raised since the partnership began in 2011.

The Surrey school, part of the Inspired Learning Group, hopes that its most recent efforts will continue to help the children of Msalura to learn and best prepare themselves for life in Salima, one of the poorest areas in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Kishwar Ali, headteacher at Essendene Lodge, explained, “Over the last 11 years we have supported Msalura in a multitude of ways including engaging all our school community in the process. Our annual cake sale fundraiser is just part of this ongoing support.”

Daniel Okeyo, school councillor said, “It’s good to do things like this to provide opportunities for children in Malawi who may not even have pens and pencils. The cake sale money will be used for the benefit of all pupils in Msalura.”

Msalura Primary School is a large urban primary school in Salima, Malawi, which provides education to over 1,500 pupils daily. Class sizes are often more than 70 pupils. Teaching facilities and resources are basic and for years, the school could not provide more than the most essential sanitation.

‘Despite being in an extremely poor area, the school performs exceptionally well. The partnership is mutually beneficial. We learn as much from them as they do from us.’_ Kishwar Ali, headteacher Essendene Lodge

Projects that Essendene has championed over the years include donating sports and computing equipment, supporting staff visits and making contributions to the ‘gifted girls fund’ which helps girls to continue into secondary education and progress onwards towards university.

In 2018, a gala dinner organised by Essendene Lodge’s parents raised over £5,000, enabling the school to dig a well and install a water pump, giving the school its own fresh water supply, which transformed the lives of children and staff.


Kishwar Ali, headteacher Essendene School visits Msalura Primary School
Kishwar Ali, headteacher Essendene Lodge School visits Msalura Primary School


In recent years the school has also supported the ‘days for girls’ project with parents putting together basic sanitary packs, helping provide girls with the resources they need to manage their periods, stay in school, and continue their education.

In June, following an appeal, the school was able to send by shipping container five large boxes of toys and learning materials donated by parents and pupils for use by children with special needs which is a new department at Msalura.

Kishwar last visited the school in 2017 and is currently planning her next visit to Msalura in May 2023, during which she plans to re-establish the partnership and meet the school’s new headteacher to discuss joint teaching and learning activities including facilitating live classroom links.

Kishwar said: “Despite being in an extremely poor area, the school performs exceptionally well. The partnership is mutually beneficial. We learn as much from them as they do from us.”

The current fundraising focus for the school remains on the ‘gifted girls fund’, ‘days for girls’ and continuing to improve the infrastructure, particularly the sanitation, at Msalura.

Kishwar said, “I could not be prouder of our amazing children, staff and parents who always go above and beyond to support our partnership with Msalura. Over the course of this year, the staff, the PTA, parents and all the children at Essendene will be looking for new and innovative ways to help support Msalura’s continued development as a beacon of hope and progression in Salima.”

In 2020, Essendene Lodge won an ISA Award for Outstanding International Involvement thanks to its ongoing partnership with Msalura.

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