Last year in March, I had a touchy Skype question time with 50 preschool children from Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
Over the past two years, they have raised over €5000 towards a solar-powered water project fora village in Nsalu in Lilongwe.
The deep-well is now serving over 100 households with clean water and it will continue doing so for the foreseeable future if we provide sustained maintenance.
The children have come to understand that women are travelling long distances to fetch water and are having less time to care for the children which is impacting negatively on the children as they have less attendance in early school going.
With the water project, they think the women can grow vegetables and raise some tree seedlings for sale and add to the beauty of the environment.
This was as conceived by a Dutch friend who stayed for a good time in our village and had taken detail of what life is in a typical Malawian village. When she went back, she shared her stories with the children in a kindergarten where her father teaches.
The children raised money by walking long distances to fetch water with buckets on their heads.
Once the water project was finished, they promised to raise another lot to construct a modern kindergarten for the village.
Each of the 50 children had a question to ask.
But the most touching were the few ones I struggled and fumbled to answer. Either I did not know a straightforward answer or I had no answer at all.
They know very little English and their teacher had to prepare a folded English note for each one of them to read based on their primal Dutch question.
Typical ones were ‘How does a typical day look like in Malawi? Where are you on the map? What do men do? What is your tradition? What do you wear? What do you eat? What’s the weather and landscape and if there were two other languages to learn what would they be? Ponder, from five year olds.
I attempted all of them, but with struggles.
The greatest of all the lessons is that at that age, they already begin to pose serious questions about the society and the global village.
In particular, they pay much attention to things that even adults this side of the earth do not grasp or consider pertinent.
How do we begin our day or manage our time in Malawi?
The majority of us are just rummaging through time and events. We have not fully defined our culture and explain it in one sentence.
We are still stuck to the old English language when the rest of the world has adopted a multilingual concept of life. And could we explain how beautiful our weather and landscape is?
And being a man, what defines us? Chauvinism?
What have we done to our villages where we come from to ensure they are de-burdened of the multiple ills that haunt and debase their livelihoods?
Yet we spend lots of money on beers entertaining friends and concubines, while folks at home are struggling to get better school infrastructure.
The Dutch kids are already focused on achieving important life objectives and are poised to be the next generation of global problem solvers, following in the foot-steps of their forefathers.
Our village of both old and young is finally getting clean and accessible water from Dutch toddlers, presumably for the next millennia.
We will continue to beg as a nation, as long as our attitudes, life styles and culture are rooted in things that do not conform to the global perspective of development. n