Crafting Community and Change through Books and Pads: The Tikondwe Teachers Project in Domasi, Malawi
Since 2004, U.S.-based college students and faculty, partnering with Rotary clubs in the Carolina Piedmont, have collaborated with teachers in three rural schools in Domasi, Malawi, on participatory action research projects designed to save the lives of children and youth through education. In Malawi, one adult in five, and one child in ten, test positive for HIV/AIDS. The only correlate of remaining disease-free is staying in school, but multiple oppressions involving poverty, language, literacy, gender, and a lack of educational resources operate to limit access. While many initiatives have addressed needs determined by teachers as critical, this chapter focuses on how the arts operate as tools for tikondwe – freedom – in the Domasi context. Against this backdrop Malawian teachers now author culturally-congruent texts in the languages their pupils need in order to learn to read and write. U.S.-based graphic design students then craft illustrations and layout for these teacher-authored books, and raise funds for printing classroom sets. University students responded to the needs of older girls, and now these girls gather after school to sew their own sustainable pads so they do not miss a week of school each month. Our aim in this work has been to knit together those whose expertise can be brought to bear on problem-solving with diverse others, and in that action to expand the moral circle and facilitate leadership development through side-by-side engagement. Our chapter explores the potential for Paulo Freire’s conscientization -- or tikondwe -- of heads, hearts and hands within this trans-global community.
Additional content will be provided upon request.