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Southern Oregon Univ. professor and student are building a library in rural Africa

A picture of Farnsworth and her former student among children who will benefit from the library being created by Educate Chombo. (Courtesy: Megan Farnsworth)

A Southern Oregon University (SOU) professor just returned home after spending time far away from the walls of the higher education facility she is used to.

Megan Farnsworth just returned from Chombo, a rural village in the developing country of Malawi.

Farnsworth was there to visit after starting a charity called Educate Chombo. It's mission is to educate women and girls and expand their economic opportunities.

The charity started 2 years ago when Farnsworth's former student, who is from Malawi, proposed starting the charity.

"She approached me one day and asked me, 'is your goal in life to help others achieve literacy?' I said, 'yes it is.' She said, 'would you like to help me open a library in the village where my parents grew up in Africa,' and I said yes I would love to," said Farnsworth.

Since then, the charity has raised $8000 according to Farnsworth. They are in the process of building a library in the village of Chombo. The charity is still around $5000 short of that goal.

Educate Chombo also focuses on teaching women and girls basic skills like reading up to a 3rd grade level and counting up to 500.

"The big overall mission statement is to increase women's ability for economic gain and economic activity through these literacy skills," said Farnsworth.

In Malawi, only 62 percent of the population above 15 years old are literate. Almost 70 percent of Malawi men are literate compared to 55 percent of Malawi women. The country also has had economic struggles. The GDP of Malawi is $21.13 billion, for perspective the GDP of the United States is $18.62 trillion and Mexico has a GDP of $2.315 trillion.

Despite the difference between the United States and Malawi, Farnsworth said she loved being in Chombo.

"There was such a bond of the love of reading, the love of knowledge, the love of learning from each other," said Farnsworth.

Farnsworth hopes to bring more Americans to Chombo in the upcoming years.

"Here in the Rogue Valley we're really kind of in an insular bubble. It's really beneficial for our students and adults to see what life is like in a small village in Africa, and what we can learn from them. We believe that there is knowledge all over the world and all knowledge is valid and important. We're not just there to help them, but they're here to help us as well for a reciprocal relationship. That's really the big goal, that we learn from each other," said Farnsworth.

If you are interested in donating to Educate Chombo you can send money to Farnsoworth's SOU mailing address or to their GoFundMe page.

Educate Chombo is also looking for donations of children's books, non-fiction books, and how-to books.


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