An acronym for Marianist Institute of Rural Artisans for Christian Life Education, MIRACLE is a national training institute located in the western outskirts of Karonga District, a fairly small township in northern end of Malawi. About a kilometre away from Karonga Airport and sharing its compound with renowned Chaminade Catholic Secondary School. MIRACLE is owned and operated by the Society of Mary (Marianist) whose headquarters is in the Region of Eastern Africa.
Since its inception in 2000, it has traded under full name: Miracle Technical Institute and it is on record of graduating in excess of 100 skilled youths every calendar year. This, in essence, reinforces the core objective of the Institute that seeks to equip poor orphans in Karonga with trade talents appropriate for rural market as well as life skills necessary for a virtuous life. It is evident that the acquired skills have unshackled the targeted underprivileged youths from the chains of poverty and distress.
The institute was initially intended for poor orphans handicapped by the lethally prevalent and deadly HIV/AIDS. Recently the institute opened doors to all youth in Malawi who are either poor or orphans in most cases. The institute sought to offer technical and material support to the orphans in order for them to assume an economically active life.
More so, to date, it has advanced its initial objective to provision of integrated, technical and business education package to both the youths and adults across the country, effectively equipping them with entrepreneurial and life skills for an economically vibrant life. This development has induced the Institute to introduce new programmes in order, to among others, meet the rising demand for tertiary education.
HIV/AIDS, an incurable, sexually-transmitted disease, became so viral in the 1990s that it claimed numerous productive lives across the country. Consequently, this led to multitudes of orphans who had little or no support for their education and their economic life altogether. Besides, with most tertiary institutions primarily focusing on the academic and intellectual aspects for admission, other mind facets such as spiritual growth were overlooked. Together with inability of most available tertiary institutions to absorb all post-primary school qualified graduates, the blooming graduate fissure for such aspects is the very much pressing reason for the foundation of the Institute. Above all, a critical overview of the country’s economy revealed that only a minority of the population were absorbed in the formal employment, with most of the idle people short of technical and entrepreneurial skills.
Feasibility Study and historical overview
The foundation of MIRACLE was based on a 1996 feasibility study conducted by a team of Marianist Brothers. The Brothers sought to expand their sole service offer of Chaminade Secondary School, which had existed for over forty years, to the people of Karonga. The study was mandated by the Marianists’ Regional Chapter following an assembly dubbed, “Do Whatever He Tells You” which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in 1994.
The survey, conducted in the district, revealed that the people faced three key problems: abject poverty attached to high unemployment; a wide prevalence of HIV/AIDS (placed at 15 percent in 2005) among young adults coupled with many child headed households; and food insecurity.
Therefore, a decision was made to set up a trade school to train young men and women in job skills that would be useful in their rural settings. The school would help the youth to earn an income and foster faith that would help them raise Christ centered families.
The local Church under the Leadership of the late Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza supported the decision by the Brothers and granted them permission to use part of the land at Chaminade Mission to establish structures for MIRACLE. This was followed by a pilot program conducted in November/December 1999, with the actual commencement of trainings in January, a year later.
Initially, the institute was only limited to offering knowledge in Carpentry, Tailoring and Hotel and Catering. However, in 2005, Electrical installation programme was introduced, with Introduction to Computers following four years later. It must be stated that each of the trade skills is offered both in theory and in practical.