School Desks Can Change Children's Lives

December 3, 2012
Tonight at 10:00 P.M. ET, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell will make a plea to viewers: Give kids in Malawi brighter futures by purchasing them school desks. This will be the third year that Lawrence has made this overture. In three years’ time, "K.I.N.D.: Kids in Need of Desks" has resulted in more than $4 million dollars raised for desks in child friendly schools in Malawi, a country where only one in five children have access to ordinary school furniture. Why is a desk is so essential in a region where there is deep poverty and other critical issues to tackle? The answer: Research shows that adequate teaching infrastructure, including furniture, can positively impact children’s participation in school. And we all know that education is a child’s passport to a brighter future.
It is hard to accept that a something as simple as a desk can have such a profound effect on a young life, but it can. Two summers ago I traveled with Lawrence to Malawi to see desks delivered to school children. We rose early one morning and traveled to the factory in which the desks were being made. We watched workers load the desks onto a truck and then we headed out caravan style to a school. I watched as children ran to greet the truck and then actually began to unload the truck themselves. As they carried the desks into the schools, there was yelling and laughter and plenty of excitement. It surpassed any Christmas morning jubilation I had ever witnessed. I chatted with a few students that day as I wanted to understand what this delivery meant beyond the obvious improved comfort level.  Over and over I heard, “I will want to come to school more,” and “I feel like a real student.” When Lawrence launched K.I.N.D., he told viewers, “When we give a child a desk, the potential for what could happen is unlimited.” I encourage you to join Lawrence and thousands of others tonight in purchasing a desk and unlocking the future for a child in Malawi.