2014 Newsletter – A Letter from our President
Missed the 2014 MCV Newsletter in the mail? Read it here on the blog. Below is the newsletter’s opening address from MCV Board President Tom Vitaglione. You can find other stories from the newsletter on our blog here or access the complete newsletter in PDF form on our print media page.
Dear Donors and Friends,
In the 1990s, Malawi was devastated by the AIDS epidemic, resulting in an estimated 900,000 orphans nationwide. The social structure was near collapse. But Malawi is known for its resilience, and this resilience spawned dreams of a brighter future. Among these dreams was Malawi Children’s Village, a dream that became a reality in 1996.
Now in its eighteenth year, MCV has continued to evolve in meeting the needs of 2,500-3,500 orphans annually in a 38 village area. The initial focus was on infant survival. With the introduction of drugs treating HIV/AIDS and in partnership with Open Arms, a British-sponsored infant-toddler care program, infant survival went from 50% to 80%. As we realized that malaria was an even greater threat to pre-school children, insecticide-treated bed-nets were introduced thanks to support from Kansas City area Rotary Clubs. The malaria case rate and death rate dropped by 80%.
Recognizing that education is critical, MCV began encouraging households to send all their children, orphans and non-orphans alike, to school. The overall school attendance rate increased from 45% to 85%. School-to-School projects strengthened the primary schools, and donations from all across the country provided stipends for secondary school tuition.
MCV found it would be better to actually operate a secondary school. With initial assistance from Solace International, Gracious Secondary School now serves more than 400 students annually, including 100 orphans. In addition, the Vocational School offers courses in carpentry, auto mechanics, and an acclaimed sewing program.
Individual donors and Rotary support made it possible for orphan graduates to receive post-secondary training. MCV now lists a physician, three nurses, several agriculture specialists, numerous teachers and even a few politicians among its “alumni.”
Along the way, community development projects have assisted the villages. With support from western NY Rotary clubs, 19 irrigation projects are going strong. Clean water now flows at the MCV campus and Open Arms, thanks to Engineers without Borders, S. C. Alaska Chapter.
During all this evolution, there has been one constant: the donors who have made the initial dream an on-going reality. We are in awe, because most donors will never visit MCV. Our donors truly exemplify selfless giving and for this MCV and its orphans are eternally grateful.
Tom Vitaglione, Board President
Look out for the next article in the newsletter, a story of a successful MCV Graduate, on Monday.