ev.owaThe African nation of Malawi is one of the poorest in the world. The HIV/AIDS pandemic that has affected the area with a prevalence rate of 21% has left many children without parents or guardians.   In 2013, I was fortunate enough to travel to Malawi with Canadian Vision Care.  I had the opportunity to visit different villages and schools in the area, and saw first hand why this country is known as the Warm Heart of Africa. Despite more then half of the population living below the poverty line, and extreme malnutrition and underdevelopment, the people were unbelievably generous and kind.  As a teacher, I was humbled to watch classes of a 100 or more children sitting in the dirt under the hot sun with nothing more than a pencil and a garbage wrapper for a pencil case.   The children were so grateful to be in school despite the deplorable conditions.  I was fortunate enough to meet a very generous Malawian man ‘Gift’, who despite his own struggles with poverty, founded a preschool, ‘Sara’s Children’, in the village of Mangochi, to provide refuge to children without parents or guardians.   This institution was set up in

photo-12010, and currently provides education, nutritious meals, medical services and clothing to 4 caregivers and 220 children below the ages of 5. 70% of the children have lost parents and families to the HIV crisis, with many of the children, testing positive themselves. The thought of our youngest and most vulnerable living so graciously despite so many challenges, is heartbreaking yet inspiring.  I was so touched by this incredible experience, and feel very connected to this particular type of charitable work.

During my initial License Application with Alberta Human Services, I spent many hours programing to ensure that physical, social, intellectual, creative and emotional needs were being met.  It was through this process, that I was reminded that these are ‘Universal’ needs that should be embraced by all early childhood programs regardless of area on a map.  It was through this process, and my experience with the Malawian children, that I felt a lifelong connection between ‘Sara’s Children’ and ‘Active Explorers’ could be born to ensure that these ‘needs’ can be fostered for all children. Active Explorers continues to support Sara’s Children with financial donations throughout the year.