At APU we do not believe in giving handouts. Our girls are expected to work hard for the education they are receiving. Although their tuition is being paid by their Canadian sponsors, they are expected to bring their own food staples from home (5 kgs of beans and 10 kgs of nsima (maize) flour. They work at the school site to pay for their pencils and exercise books and their families work hard to supply funding for field trips and sports shoes. These girls know the value of hard work and are learning that even though they come from poverty, they are not helpless.
In addition, the girls give back to their community through weekly excursions into the nearby trading center of Nsalu. They volunteer at the local medical clinic, take time to mentor primary school students, and clean up garbage at the local market place. In addition, they spend one afternoon a week working at the APU school site carrying water, bricks, and sand, spend time watering saplings in the APU tree nursery and tend to the plants in the extensive APU garden. The ethic of volunteerism is not widespread in Malawi due to the extreme poverty faced by families, particularly in the rural areas. APU is breaking new ground in teaching its students that you don’t need to be wealthy in order to give back and make a difference in your community. All that is needed is a strong and healthy body and a will to help others.