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Lakewood educator opens school in African country, Malawi

Posted at 6:38 PM, Oct 06, 2017

In Malawi, only seven percent of children complete their secondary education, according to RippleAfrica.org.

The house principal of Lakewood High School visited a tiny village there, as a Peace Corp volunteer with his son, back in 2011.

He told News 5 he wanted to do something, after seeing the conditions there. His mission finally came into fruition in 2017.

While Yakoob Badat's day job is house principal of Lakewood High, he works tirelessly at night on his non-profit, Nanze.

“Nanze, itself is really a simple name. It's a combination of my son’s name and my daughter’s name,” he said.

His children are the source of his inspiration.

“I look at these kids, and I see my own son in that child's eye,” said Badat.

House Principal Badat said he wanted to give the children there something he thought they lacked -- an option.

“My kid has options on what drink they're going to have, it hits home. When you go there and you see people in Malawi, children with no options,” said Badat.

Badat said young children in the village have to walk eight miles a day to go to school.

“When we visited one of the schools there, it was sad to see that the children made their own pencils from a piece of charcoal,” he said, “sharpened it on a stick and tied it, and used it that to write on cardboard.”

With images like that still etched in his mind, Badat worked diligently for four years, selling t-shirts and holding fundraisers.

He raised about $35,000 and finally opened Nanze Primary School just two weeks ago on September 18th. The school is located in his father's old village in Malawi.

A total of 350 children in that village no longer have to trek eight miles.

“It's definitely been difficult, but a lot more rewarding for us because we’re changing lives of people in Malawi,” he said.

Badat thanked the Lakewood community and Nanze volunteers for their continuous support, but he said his mission is not over.

“We're looking to expand and build additional classrooms because we have hundreds and hundreds of more kids, we need to educate,” he said.

Nanze also provides clean water and food for these children. Right now, the school provides classes through the 4th grade, but Badat said he hopes to expand the school to the 8th grade.

His latest fundraiser, featuring Malawi cuisine, is coming up on Oct. 14.

‘The Taste of Malawi’ will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m at the Gemini Center in Fairview Park. You can purchase tickets here.