By Kassandra Norrie
I was texting a friend a few months ago and I just went through my text history to find the conversation for you.
“I have a theory that any major social injustice could be fixed in three generations.”
He replied, “Dying to hear this theory!”
“It’s simple… First generation acknowledges there is a problem, second generation starts the fight, and the third generation accepts the change completely.”
His response, “Fascinating. My generation carried on the fight, your generation is opening us up to the humanistic realities. But there has to be a variable and overlap in the theory which will account for some generations planting the seeds of change?”
I thought about it for a moment and simply replied, “The Gems”.
I realize now that I was being a little naive in thinking once a Gem starts the fight it simply continues to be fought for three generations until the White Hats win. Three generations, that’s it. I know that to live the changes I am imagining in my head it will probably take longer than three generations for Malawi. However, today I want to talk about The Three Gems in Transformative Praxis: Malawi.
The first Gem in Jenny. Jenny is a local Malawian, the TPM Director on the ground, and our Mama Bwana (Boss in Chichewa). Jenny is one of the most kind hearted and strongest woman I have ever met. She is the local Gem who sees that Malawi Education needs a change and is more than willing to spend her time and energy working for the change. Jenny is strong enough to stand up to a group of village chiefs and sweet enough to dig into her own pocket when the project is in need. Without Jenny on the ground I wonder if the project would successfully move forward.
The newest Gem in TPM is Dr. Fintan Sheeran. Fintan is the caring man who threw himself in whole heartedly after learning about Transformative Praxis: Malawi. The health initiative that Fintan is starting from our campus is going to change the Chilanga Region. Not only is he spreading awareness of local health issues, but he is working with a group of Malawian volunteers who will be his little gems and start the change. Fintan is a shimmering Gem but he is turning others into Gems as well.
The final Gem is a combination of five people who have given so much: The Stonebanks. The strongest Gem in this group is Dr. C. Darius Stonebanks who started Praxis Malawi and is the reason it continues. He is the kindest man I know and I have caught myself wondering many times and even asked him on a few occasions, “how can he always be so good?” His Gem stays strong because the most generous Gem, Melanie, supports her husband more than anyone I have ever met. Christopher, Melanie, and their children have all given more to this project than everyone else combined. When issues arrive it is the Stonebanks who always sacrifice whatever is necessary to see the project succeed.
It is the Gems in the world that plant the seeds for change, but only the brightest Gems continue to fight the good fight. And it is the Gems in my life who encourage me to be a Gem one day.
About the Blog
Since 2013, students participating in Transformative Praxis: Malawi have been writing blog posts reflecting on their experiences of participating in action research in Malawi. The original blog with the full archive can be found here