In 2002 Simone, from Switzerland and Tereza, from the Czech Republic met on a six-month volunteer program in Malawi for a charity supporting childhood education in rural areas. It was here they met Justin, a pre-school teacher for the charity, and student of Malawi University.
Both strongly influenced by the experience, Simone and Tereza returned to Malawi and, in 2005, Tereza raised enough funds to establish an independent rural pre-school centre in the local community they were living. With Justin’s help, the Team mobilised the community to initiate construction of the school in the village called Juma. An executive committee for the school was formed from 12 volunteers from surrounding villages and eight applicants were appointed to become teachers, following intensive training. The Umodzi pre-school opened to 80 children in 2007 and continues to provide high quality education to the local communities.
Shortly after, the Team were approached by people from Kantimbanya village (20 km from the Umodzi pre-school) asking for support for their four pre-schools which the villagers had started in 2002 but were being run under a tree. The Team agreed to cooperate and, supported by the Dutch embassy in Malawi, raised enough funds for a proper pre-school building called Mango, while the new teachers received training at the school in Juma.
The experience with the Kantimbanya villagers taught the Team an important lesson which was to fundamentally shape the direction of their involvement for the future. The Kantimbanya people had their own goal (four pre-schools) which they founded without external intervention and then kept pro-actively looking for support. While the people from the Juma village area were asked to participate on a project they had not initiated themselves, and subsequently it was difficult for them to develop a sense of ownership and active participation.
At a local level, initiatives and developments cannot function well if the initial needs and efforts do not come from the local community.
What makes boNGO different is our approach to collaboration with the local community and stakeholders, all of whom have different needs which requires a bespoke approach, and we engage the stakeholders at every stage.
Therefore boNGO works with community organizations that:
In short – boNGO doesn’t bring development into the communities but rather supports the community development projects that are already there, initiated and run by the local people.
The Team decided to concentrate their efforts supporting developments within active communities, and to use this experience as the foundation of our approach to development initiatives in general. An NGO was set up, and so boNGO was formed: based on Needs-driven Grassroots Ownership.
These pre-schools became to be called Model Childcare Centres as they all share common distinctions over existing state school norms. These include:
At around this time we began to make our own teaching materials in collaboration with local carpenters. This developed into a workshop that produced teaching aids for all our pre-schools. Link to Carpentry Program
In 2010 the Mango pre-school build was completed and as the pre-school teachers became more experience, they began teaching other potential teachers.
boNGO’s aim is to expand Model Childcare Centres to other communities across Malawi so that they can inspire and train teachers in surrounding pre-schools while also showing to the local community what is possible with limited resources.
In 2011, when monitoring performance of the children leaving pre-school, the Team discover how much lower the standard of teaching is within primary schools and the lack of teaching aids. As a reaction the Team consulted with the teachers of a school close to the childcare centre along with the local community resulting in the first Happy Classroom Project. This transformed bare classrooms into a curriculum based print-rich environment, giving the teachers and students a more stimulating and interactive learning and teaching experience.
Mission: To develop and implement innovative educational concepts that can be replicated in various communities across the world in order to raise the standards of education
Vision: For Malawian children and young adults to be capable of logical and independent thinking, while providing the foundation for knowledge towards the healthy development of the country.
Beauty of the name boNGO
The name boNGO can have several meanings:
In 2014 a feature film, B’ella , is produced by boNGO, in cooperation with Dikamawoko Arts. It is a story of a secondary school girl named B’ella looking into the issues of peer pressure, school bullying, molestation and the power of education and how these pressures can be mitigated. In 2016 B’ella was screened at eight international film festivals.
In March 2021 construction finished on the Masuku Childcare Center. Thanks to a donation of USD 64,000, the Swiss Foundation enabled boNGO and the Kantimbanya community to construct a school with 2 classrooms, a kitchen, WC and a playground with a bore hole.
In 2021 our carpentry workshops expanded our range of innovative teaching aids. Originally set up to address the need for quality teaching materials for our schools where imported aids were too expensive or poor quality, we now sell teaching and learning materials to local schools, education centres and for private use, providing a growing source of revenue.
2002-2003 Development volunteer for an international NGO in Malawi, working within a Preschool and Teacher-training program, and developing a Teachers’ Manual for rural preschools.
2004-2005 Promoting Fair Trade in the Czech Republic.
2005-2006 Project Co-ordinator supporting the development of Umodzi-Mbame CBO in Malawi which leads to founding of boNGO.
2008 Supporting the development of the Government’s Millennium Development Goals Booklet and the International Development Booklet for the Parliament Members and Senators in the Czech Republic.
2007-2014 Managing Director at boNGO.
“I am a visionary. A lot of good ideas come to me and some of them I turn true. One of these was building a preschool in Malawi, which in the end was the foundation for starting boNGO. Without this original project my boNGO colleagues would never have gotten together, and without them there would be no boNGO.”
1999 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE).
2003 Diploma & Certificate in Project Management (Community Development) at Frontline Institute of Zimbabwe.
1999 – 2006 Working with several international NGOs in Malawi – Gift of the Givers, World Vision, Hunger Project, World Food Program, DAPP.
2007 Graduate in Marketing, Malawi College of Accountancy.
2006 Project Officer supporting the development of Umodzi-Mbame CBO in Malawi which leads to founding of boNGO.
2008 Early Childhood Development Certificate, Ministry of Gender and Child Services Malawi
2007-2014 Program Director at boNGO ,
“I am happy to work for my country in the area of development work and to be one of the founding members of boNGO Worldwide. Imagine: working, interacting, sharing with different people of different backgrounds, cultures, understanding, perceptions, and interests. It must be challenging and good.”
2001 Graduation as Primary School Teacher in Switzerland.
2002 Development Volunteer for an international NGO in Malawi, working within a Preschool and Teacher-Training Program and developing a Teachers’ Manual for rural Preschools in Malawi.
2003 Preschool Teacher in England.
2004 Coordinator and Fundraiser for a Development Education Charity in England, encouraging global awareness and responsibility within education.
2006 Education Officer supporting the development of the Umodzi-Mbame CBO in Malawi which leads to founding of boNGO.
2007-14 Education Director at boNGO.
“boNGO evolved out of our personal life experiences. For me boNGO is therefore not just a development concept but a living approach which I am continuously exploring on a personal and social level. It’s about joy, potential, openness, motivation and trust in oneself, the people and life.”
Tereza Mirovičová, the Managing Director of ‘boNGO Worldwide’ in Malawi, sings in the Chichewa language to raise awareness and get support for the Happy Classrooms project
Malawi is a small landlocked country in southeast Africa, one of the five poorest countries with approximately 13 million people. Majority of the population lives in the rural areas and depends on subsistence farming. The most interesting geographic feature is lake Malawi, third largest lake in Africa, which has the most diverse fish population out of all lakes in the world. Malawi faces similar problems like other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa – HIV/AIDS, lack of medical care and drinking water, malnutrition, high mortality of children and mothers, malaria, illiteracy, low standards of education, deforestation and soil degradation. Malawian people are in Africa known for their peacefulness and hospitality and call their country “The Warm Heart of Africa.”