WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Think back to some of the first books you opened to read. These tend to be cherished titles that we carry with us into adulthood.

However, for children in Malawi, books are prized items, as they are sometimes the only tool children have to learn English.

The organization Malawai Early Literary team, commonly known as M.E.L.T. based in Watertown, is helping to supply education resources to the Northern region of Malawi.

The program began in 2016 and is based in the Northern region of Malawi and includes 20 schools, a bookmobile and a library located in Mzuzu.

M.E.L.T. has a team of education and business professionals based in the North Country and supports 20 schools in Malawi, a bookmobile and a newly built library located in Mzuzu.

According to M.E.L.T. Chair Heather White, a goal of the program is to create “culturally responsible” resources that are given to each student in M.E.L.T.

“We are supporting their voyage into being fluent readers in English,” White said. “It makes them stronger individuals, hence stronger families, stronger communities and a stronger nation.”

M.E.L.T. first began in 2014 following a trip to the country that White and other educators took in 2008. White explained that the group quickly realized that there was a need as students are tested for English proficiency in grade six, despite English being typically a third language.

Reading resources are the main focus. Since 2014, M.E.L.T. has designed, developed and published 17 book titles. Each earned written approval from the Malawian Office of the Minister of Education.

White shared that these were some of the first books Malawian students ever held.

“To have their hands on a book, to see children that looked like themselves… some children giggled, but some students actually wept,” she said.

The group is set to leave for Malawi in the first week of August 2022. This will be the first trip M.E.L.T. has taken to Malawi since 2019.

“So many difficult things have happened during COVID,” White expressed. “I’m afraid that when I touch the ground, I will fall down and burst into tears.

The team will be in Malawi for three weeks, teaching, reading and learning for themselves. More information on the organization can be found on the M.E.L.T. website.