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Marie Da Silva - Inspirational & Motivational Stories

Marie Da Silva - The Jacaranda Foundation

Born and raised in Malawi, an African nation formerly known as Nyasaland, worked as a nanny in the United States for nineteen years. She is well aware of the educational system back home. Under the Malawian Education system, primary education is free. However, students must provide for their own uniform, paper, pencils, pens, other supplies, and examination fees. The problem which arises here is that many of these children have been orphaned due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Besides food and shelter, they cannot afford basic school supplies.

According to UNAIDS, 14 percent of the country's adult population is infected with HIV and more than half a million children have been orphaned by the disease. Marie Da Silva is all too familiar with the horrors of AIDS. She lost 14 members of her family, including her father and two brothers, to the disease. "When I visit Malawi, I visit my family at the graveyard," says Marie Da Silva. Marie's love for children and her personal history made her realize that many children were missing out on a valuable opportunity to go to school in her home village of Che Mboma. She was over-whelmed with a sense of urgency to provide for a better life for these orphans and raise awareness about their plight. Thus, was born the Jacaranda Foundation and the Jacaranda School for Orphans. The Jacaranda School provided education for students funded by the Jacaranda Foundation as well as integrated orphan care. There is great emotional significance to the name of the foundation as the Jacaranda tree played an important role  in Marie's life.  During the dying days of her father, she found solace and calmness in the beauty of the tree as it blossomed outside the hospital room.

For the past 7 years Marie has used her bedrooms, living room, pantry and even the garage of her home as classrooms. Nearly a third of her monthly income is spent on paying salaries for teachers and some school supplies. Several of her fellow nannies also contribute with monthly donations of $10. All she was ever worried about was whether these children were getting their homework done eating well. Besides the free primary and secondary education, the Jacaranda School for Orphans provides other important personal development aspects such as uniforms and school supplies, daily nutrition, medical care, AIDS education classes, Arts programs, agriculture activities, home support, children's counseling and much more. With the school thriving in her childhood home, nearly 200 AIDS orphaned children receive porridge every morning and education free of charge. "  They're so hungry to learn," Da Silva explains. "This is their sanctuary."

Even though resources are low and classes are crowded, Da Silva knows her efforts are not going in vain. Her dream now is to build a new school with lab facilities and a real library one day. Today, Marie still works part time as a nanny while spending the rest of her time in fundraising efforts and speaking in schools and universities around the world.

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