TU Law Students Start Foundation to Improve Education in Malawi

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Donations Needed for Book Shipping Fees

Mbilike MwafulirwaTU College of Law student Mbilike Mwafulirwa has launched the Let Us Read Foundation to help children in his native country of Malawi in southeastern Africa.

The purpose of the Let Us Read Foundation is to provide books to schools in Malawi lacking such basic resources. The foundation has obtained more than 2,000 books and is now in need of $3,000 in shipping fees to get the books to Malawi. Those wishing to make a financial donation may contact Mark Smith at 918-231-6317 or mark-smith@utulsa.edu. Donations may also be made through PayPal at letusreadfoundation.org.

The initial effort of the foundation targets Chichiri Primary School, Mwafulirwa’s former primary school, in Blantyre, Malawi. Mwafulirwa is currently in Malawi to oversee the foundation’s efforts.

Malawi is one of the world’s poorer countries, and its education system reflects that. Classroom supplies, including books, are sparse, and classes are overcrowded (often more than 100 pupils per class).

"With overcrowded classrooms, lack of reading materials, and unpaid or poorly paid teachers, too many children stand to be deprived of the only realistic means of improving their livelihood – a good education," Mwafulirwa said. "We should be able to begin a slow but purposeful journey toward restoring the destiny of young Africans. We know we cannot do everything, but we can certainly do something."

The genesis of the foundation began when a childhood friend from Malawi asked Mwafulirwa to donate two books, but Mwafulirwa decided that was too little and thought he could collect 2,000. He and fellow TU law students Mark Smith, executive vice president of the foundation, and Arthur Loyd, fundraising and marketing director of the foundation, became involved and decided to incorporate the foundation in Oklahoma as a non-profit, with Mwafulirwa as president. They are now in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) income tax exempt status from the IRS.

Local business owner Anthony Wilson and Brian Carr of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma are also serving as directors for the foundation.

People may donate textbooks or any constructive reading materials in boxes by the front door of the Mabee Legal Information Center at the TU College of Law at 3120 East Fourth Place. TU law student Blake Feamster, vice president of logistics and collections for the foundation, and her team will collect the books from those boxes.

Though there are multiple languages spoken in Malawi, English is the official language. Donated books can be in English and should be suitable for students from 7 to 16 years of age. There is great need for English, math, and science books. Ideally, the books would be at a beginner’s level.

Scott Been