Jacaranda School for Orphans learners fill up potholes on a patch of busy road in Chigumula as community service

* They covered them with broken bricks (maduka) as they await the city’s road department to take care of the rest

* We are not experts but just wanted to help make it easier for traffic and cyclists, until the experts arrive

* We would have added quarry stones but it’s just a temporary job and as I said we are not experts

By Duncan Mlanjira

Learners at Jacaranda School for Orphans have been applauded for filling up potholes on a patch of road leading to Newlands in Chigumula along the road to Thyolo.


The school’s founder and director, Marie da Silva posted the learners’ community service on Facebook, saying this patch of the road leading to Newlands was heavily compromised by the potholes due to heavy rains in the past few weeks and she decided to just cover them with broken bricks as they await the city’s road department to take care of the rest of the rehabilitation.

“Our students picked broken bricks (maduka) and we waited until late afternoon when there was less traffic and maintained the potholes,” she wrote. “We are not experts but just wanted to help make it easier for traffic and cyclists, until the experts arrive.

“We would have added quarry stones but it’s just a temporary job and as I said we are not experts. Another reason is whilst working, we realized that there was a burst water main pipeline adding water to the road.”

She said Blantyre Water Board was informed of the compromised pipeline and hoped “it will be fixed in no time”.

“Each year, after the rains, the kids do this in our village — especially the road that leads to our Pediatric Physiotherapy Clinic where mothers have to carry their special needs children on their backs.

“We feel that if we can do something to help a situation using the little resources we have, we should go ahead and do it. Teaching our kids about volunteering and mostly about community service.”

In response, Sheilah Ibrahim said: “Such selflessness. Reminds me of Papa Abdullah — he always took it upon himself to fill those bad sections, at least on the public road in front of his house. Keep up the community service, Jacaranda.”


Labana Swadick said: “Proud of you guys! Together, we can transform our communities” and as the messages of encouragement poured in Da Silva was humble, saying she was “proud of the school students — they got the madukas and fixed the potholes. I did not do anything”.

“The kids are being transformed into exemplary future of Malawi”, adding that this gesture should very likely “change their mindset of not to always wait for others to take care of their surroundings”.

Da Silva was, however, dismayed that some motorist discouraged the kids as they drove by, blurting out of his big car to her, saying: “That’s the work of the Government, we pay our taxes”.

“I pay my taxes too. 20 years ago I saw orphans with no school. I did not wait for Government — I acted using my nanny salary to keep them in school.  Today many are in qualified jobs right here in Malawi.”

Lucy Kamwana Keustermans responded to say: “You are a good example for our future leaders growing with knowledge of how to live a positive life. Thank you, Marie.”

Dannie Grant Phiri said when he passed by the previous day he “couldn’t help but wonder why the Road Authority is letting this ‘wound fester’”.

In March last year during the forestry season, the Jacaranda learners helped plant Jacaranda trees along Chileka-Magalasi Road in response to a call by private seedlings developer, Mapopa William Banda — who had invited the general public on social media to join him in the planting exercise.

Da Silva sent 22 of her learners to take part — a gesture that took William Banda by pleasant surprise and they went on to plant more of the 180 trees he had budgeted for and earmarked from Nyambadwe Filling Station to Magalasi roundabout.

Mapopa helping a kid plant his tree

William Banda had requested Blantyre City Council if they could allocate him a place he could plant trees and they suggested along Chileka-Magalasi Road and asked if they could be Jacaranda.

“How I wish I could have provided more because the kids enjoyed the exercise and a nice bus ride all the way from their base in Chugumula but I only had 180 Jacaranda trees available,” he had said.

“I must thank Marie for her gesture — this inculcates a good culture of tree planting amongst kids which will be enriched as they grow up.”

In 2019, Jacaranda School ended their first term for the Christmas holidays in unique style by being presented with trees to plant at their homes in the spirit of inculcating tree planting culture as well as impress on them on preserving the environment.


Each year, Santa Claus visits the school where he usually gives the children sweets and other small gifts, but in 2019 Jacaranda School management asked Santa Claus to bring indigenous trees instead of toys and sweets.

Da Silva had said management came up with the idea to impress the learners of the effects and dangers of climate change around the world and especially in Malawi.

She told the learners that there are fewer forests now due to the cutting down of forests for firewood but there is need to be replacing them since the country over relies on wood fuel.

Jacaranda School plants more than 5,000 trees each year — supplied by Mapopa himself — and for the 2019 exercise, over 428 trees were distributed, representing the enrollment number of learners in primary and secondary school.