In 2002, Marie Da Silva wanted to make a difference in the lives of children who had been orphaned by AIDS in her native country of Malawi. At the time, she was working as a nanny in Los Angeles, so with limited resources she did what anyone else would do—she started a school.
The Jacaranada School was created to provide free primary, secondary and tertiary education to Malawi orphans. Over seven years, Marie spent a third of her income on salaries for teachers and school supplies for classes. In 2008, her work was honored by CNN naming her a Top 10 Hero.
Four years later, Marie joined forces with two more heroes - Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, the founder of Mary’s Meals and Evans Wadongo, the creator of Sustainable Development for All - creating an unstoppable team. All three play an integral part at the school and continue to build a more sustainable future for its students.
With a lack of food resources at home, many of the students only have meals while at school. Since 2010, Mary’s Meals (also started in Malawi) which helps feed 600,000 people worldwide, has provided free daily porridge for every student at the school and an extra meal for older students who need more nutrients to study longer hours.
Evans, a Kenyan native, began his organization at the age of 19 after replacing kerosene lamps with solar-powered LED lanterns. Soon, several villages in Kenya were being lit up by the LED based lanterns. He joined Marie by teaching students at the school how to build their own lamps, giving students a way to cut electricity costs at home and having light to study after dark. But most importantly, the students have an African-born role model to look up to.
It’s one thing to bring great minds together, but when ideas become reality, the possibilities are endless.
- Juan Frausto