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Donna Power

The power to change the world


Donna Power is a ‘mumpreneur’ on a mission to be part of the “antidote to suffering” in one of the poorest countries in the world.

The mum-of-two and business owner from Brisbane is the founder of Project Kindy, an Australian registered charity that covers the kindergarten fees for 725 children, as well as wages for 60 staff, across 11 centres in rural villages of Malawi.

Donna founded the charity 2011 after reuniting with an old friend, Sister Melissa Dwyer, who was the principal of a secondary Catholic girls school in Malawi at the time. Near to her religious congregation’s convent was a kindergarten, but many local families couldn’t afford the fees. And, as Donna learnt, for some children, kindergarten is the only chance to receive a meal.

“I sent an email around to my family and friends in September 2011, and we sent our first donation of $1,200 in December 2011,” Donna said.

It was a simple formula – donate $4 to cover the cost of kindy for one month per child – and it worked. Today, Project Kindy’s generous donors have raised enough money to send 725 children to kindergarten and reopen 10 kindergartens in remote areas of Malawi. The charity now also supports infrastructure projects to improve the kindergarten centre facilities and has hired a director to support the professional development of teachers.

It takes a village

While Project Kindy funds the future of several kindergartens in Malawi, all the centres are owned and operated by the local villagers.

In 2016, Donna had the opportunity to visit those villagers and kindergartens supported by her charity. 

Woman in Malawi at chalkboard with child

“I had a one-year-old at the time, and stressfully trying to feed my baby, so I knew that seeing these somewhat bigger babies eating was going to mean a lot to me,” Donna said. “But I didn’t have a clue what to expect with the adults.”

Donna said she received a powerful testimony from the chief of a Muslim village that brought tears to her eyes.

“He said to me, ‘When I told our neighbours that you were coming, they didn’t believe me, because no one ever visits us. We are the forgotten ones. You remembering us has had such a big impact on us’,” Donna said.

“It was a sword going straight to my heart.”

Donna said the impact of Project Kindy has had a “ripple effect” on the lives of all the villagers, not just the children whose fees they cover.

“There’s plenty of research that suggest pre-primary education might be, if not is, the most cost-effective and efficient way to raise the standard of living,” Donna said. 

“Malawi one of the poorest countries in the world, but when I see the videos of the children and the teachers you wouldn’t know that. At kindy they’re protected and empowered. That’s the long-term, even though in the short term, there’s a crisis going on.”

Education is ongoing

A former schoolteacher and campus minister, Donna is never one to miss an opportunity to grow and stretch her own skills and capacity.

In 2019 she enrolled in ACU’s Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Catholic Culture to help improve her leadership of Project Kindy, as well as her other business, Experience Wellbeing.

Designed for leaders of Catholic health, aged care, educational, and social welfare organisations, the university qualification deepens a person’s understanding of Catholic identity, ethos and mission, and how it integrates with day-to-day leadership of any organisation.

Outdoor classroom in Malawi

“What I discovered in that course is it doesn’t matter what work you’re doing, this course will apply to it, because it focuses on your understanding of faith and your mission, why you do what you do,” Donna said. 

“I’m Catholic so I come from that world view, and Project Kindy supports Catholic nuns, so we’re obviously supporting the mission of the Catholic Church, however the people that come on board as supporters and donors and advocates of Project Kindy come from different backgrounds but are drawn into the mission and ethos.”

Donna said while a lot of middle- to senior-management undertook the course, she said it was “amazing formation for any adult”.

“It’s inviting people to sit with theology and philosophy to broaden their perspectives with incredible writers, authors, and thinkers.  

“It’s a really good thing to take time to sit with bigger thinkers, to learn from them so you can more easily define why you’re doing what you’re doing and how you’re going to create a more life-giving space.

“And I’m applying everything I learn at home with my vocation as a mother, but also with Project Kindy and my business.”

Interested in making a difference? Explore the courses available at ACU. 

Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2022 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G