Friday, January 18th was a normal school day at Ntonda Primary School, a partner of Namikango Mission. The students gathered for classes as heavy rain clouds rolled across Southern Malawi’s open plains. We are in the middle of the rainy season here, so these ominous clouds were not out of the ordinary, but promised a good storm at some point during the day. As the day wore on the storm came as they do nearly every day during rainy season. However, this storm brought with it heavy winds, which whipped across Ntonda’s campus in a fury. At one point, the teachers and students noticed that the roof on of the classroom blocks was beginning to lift.
Acting quickly, the teachers evacuated the students from the two classrooms. Minutes later the roof began to blow off the building in the intense winds. The students took shelter in another building as the winds began to tear the roof off another classroom block. That building was quickly evacuated as well, before the roof and walls came down under the intense storm. As the storm dissipated the school sent all the children back home in order to assess the damage of the storm. The first classroom block with two classrooms lost part of the roof and sustained significant structural damage. The second classroom with three classrooms was completely destroyed in the storm. The damage was so significant that the building will not be able to be recovered and must be torn down and replaced.
The Ntonda community, chiefs, and school committee all assessed the damage, recovering as much of the tin roof as possible and storing it for later use by the school. Likewise, Namikango sent a delegation to assess the damage and discuss a way forward. As of now the students who used to learn in these classrooms are taking classes outside under the massive trees on campus. This scenario is by no means a long-term solution, however, as we still have several months of rainy season left, and these students need a safe environment to learn in.