The materials inside a library in Malawi, Africa, created by Watertown’s Malawi Early Literacy Team, were destroyed by protesters last week.

The team develops and publishes kindergarten through second grade early literacy books with phrasing, references and themes understood in the children’s cultures. Two to four team members then deliver the books — this year 5,000 — to Malawi annually and lead a five-day intensive training for teachers from 15 Malawian schools.

Team Leader Heather F. White said the library’s attack was part of a protest aimed at the building’s owner and politician, Grace Chiumia. Though the building remains intact and no one was injured, many of the educational materials have been compromised.

Ms. White said more than 5,000 early readers, book bins, book bags, shelving, racks, tables and other items have been destroyed.

“Having just returned three weeks ago from an extremely successful trip ... this is disheartening,” Ms. White said.

Moving forward, Ms. White said the team is focused on what remains in the library: the six new library shelves were untouched, 1,200 of the books were out in schools, 400 books were still on their way to the library, fluency kits are in classrooms, and the team’s vehicle is still running.

“MELT will not allow the acts of a few to stop our good work for 20 schools, over 40 teachers and a circulation of 40,000 books annually,” Ms. White said.

For more information or options to help, visit www.rebuildreprint.cheddarup.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

Health, nonprofit and education reporter for the Watertown Daily Times.

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(2) comments

C Banda

Re my first post: Why did this website throw away all my careful formatting? I did not post a single paragraph!

C Banda

I am posting this from Malawi. There is no justification whatsoever for the destruction of these books, which were being stored in a HOUSE belonging to Chiumia, and not at any library. The explanation for the targeting of her house is that she is part of the oppressive ruling-party, which has been using oppression and violence against its critics, and SOME people now are boiling over and irrationally resorting to their own violence during demonstrations. With good reason, Chiumia is deeply unpopular in Malawi. It is said around her constituency that she has used donations from her US friends during her political campaigning, pretending that she or her party are their source. Thus, she has presented stuff like blankets, jackets, and other clothing to chiefs and old folk in order to further her political career. Her constituents have seen through her however, and voted her out as their MP at the recent elections, when she took only 66% of the votes gathered by her opponent. An example of her oppression is given in this article from Sep-2017: “Minister Grace Chiumia orders arrests” – from Times Malawi There you can read: “Police Sunday arrested 42 National Registration Bureau (NRB) members of staff following an order from Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Grace Chiumia. “Chiumia reportedly spotted the group assembled at a park within a shopping mall where, she said, she overheard them discussing and planning on leaking information from the registration exercise, in an attempt to force the NRB to pay them arrears. “But the officers said in separate interviews that the meeting was aimed at mapping the way forward on that matter and that they were yet to arrive at a conclusion.” Although there were many arrests, the case never came to court, and some of those arrested have sued Chiumia. From Nyasa Times, Jan-2018: “Grace Chiumia has been sued by 14 National Registration Bureau (NRB) workers arrested for convening a meeting in Mzuzu last September, demanding damages for the arbitrary arrest which she alleged to have ordered police to effect.” Chiumia is not the caring individual which you people in the US think she is. Well, upon reflection, I suppose that she cares about herself, and her oppressive, violent party.

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