A mere look at the faces of underprivileged children at her home village in Embangweni, Mzimba defeated her. Agnes Nkhata, 30, felt she had to do something to help them get proper foundations of education.
Apart from the children, people such as NyaZiba, one of the early childhood development (ECD) teachers with such passion and dedication to developing the little minds, inspired her to adopt Timalechi Nursery School which for the most part runs on charity.
NyaZiba had gone for nearly one year without pay as most parents were not paying school fees at the Nursery School. In spite of that, NyaZiba never missed a day of work, to give the children important roots of education.
“Dedicated teachers such as this make the world go round, change lives and impact the future in ways she might never see, but will be felt!” says Nkhata who now directs the nursery school.
Timalechi Nursery School was founded in 1997 by her grandfather Winston Zimba with the help of her aunt Mary. Zimba was inspired by street children with nothing to do.
She says that her grandfather suffered injury to his legs when he was hit by a motorbike in 2003 and now he has lost eye sight.
That is how Nkhata, currently based in the United States of America (USA), got involved in the charitable work.
“I care about the children at Embangweni and particularly Timalechi Nursery School. This initiative was started by one of my family members and it is my responsibility to carry on the project for the good cause that it is,” she says.
It all started when she came home from USA to visit for the first time in 10 years. She went to the school in rural Mzimba and recalls finding it in bad shape.
“It was on the verge of closing. Teachers complained of unpaid salaries, the property was unsecure and up to now there is no power or running water. I decided to mobilise support for the school once I returned to the US,” she says.
Nkhata took over in 2013 and visits annually with school supplies, volunteers and ideas for the sustainable development of the school.
“I wonder what my life would have been if my parents did not prioritise education. Malawi is suffering because of lack of education; this is my small contribution to be a part of sustainable development in this country.
“Each year, I spare two to four months to come home and help these precious children. One day I will come for good,” says Nkhata, first born in a family of three.
Her father was a legendary musician who had pride and hope for Malawi. Her mother, Helen Zimba, took the young woman along to the US when she went for higher education.
Timalechi Nursery School provides early childhood education and day care services to under-privileged and special needs children between the ages of one and six years.
Most of the children’s parents are farmers, maids and small scale business entrepreneurs.
Nkhata says pupils pay K750 every month for upkeep and as a lesson to the parents that education is an investment.
Since 1997, Timalechi Nursery School has cared for about 2 500 children. The centre currently has 75 students enrolled with a monthly requirement of K300 000 to run.
“I am constantly fundraising for the school in USA through arts and events,” she says, adding that money raised so far went to teachers’ salaries, repairs for the school, building a fence around the premises and providing school uniforms for the 75 pupils,” she says.
Timalechi Nursery School has also just launched a sustainable project for feeding the children.
“It is called the Phala Project. My grandfather gave us a piece of land near the school where we have grown maize, soya and beans which will be used to produce porridge. This project is funded by McCarthy-Mathaai Community Garden of Dallas, Texas,” she says.
Their plan is to make Timalechi Nursery School a model ECD centre in the country and develop packages that would be duplicated to impact other centres across the country.
Nkhata is also the president of Malawians in Texas Organisation, a non-profit organisation which supports and promotes cultural interface as well as educational, medical, economic and professional linkages.
This is the organisation that last year rallied support against the killing of people living with albinism.
The same group also mobilised Malawians in USA to lobby for dual citizenship. And in 2015, it raised funds and collected donations for flood victims in Phalombe.
“I believe we were all born to make a difference with our God-given gifts,” says the young woman who comes from Kabira Village in Embangweni, Mzimba.
In USA, she works as a professional Disc Jockey (DJ) and event planner. She is also a freelance journalist, but pursuing a degree course in Economics at Brookhaven College in Texas, USA, with aspirations to acquire a masters degree in International Development.
Born on July 1 1986 in Lilongwe, she says she enjoys family, history, art, dancing and volunteering.
She grew up in USA and Lumbadzi, Lilongwe as her mother worked for Malawian Airlines.
“We lived in Lumbadzi until we moved to USA at age seven. I have two brothers, both living in America,” says the 30 year old daughter of the late legendary musician Brite ‘Live wire’ Nkhata.