Walking through a primary school classroom in Lifuwu, focus and determination are etched on the learners’ faces, a mantra running through each of their heads. The mantra goes, “Study hard in school, do well on your exams, and get selected for secondary school so you can have the opportunities your parents didn’t to help your family get out of poverty.” The idea is, work hard enough and opportunity knocks.
As we know, hard work is not always enough, so even when a student is selected to attend secondary school in Malawi, their family will not necessarily be able to afford the cost. Every year when the national exam results are released, every household with a child passing her/his Standard 8 exams explodes in a frenzied juggling act of economics to find school fees. For some students, a balance is found and secondary school comes within reach, but for many, their efforts are met with disappointment.
Zione is an orphan supported by her uncle, Clement, who is head teacher at Lifuwu Basic Primary School. Clement also supports five other children who are attending secondary school. Even though Zione was at the top of her Standard 8 class this year, Clement was simply unable to pay for her school expenses with his modest civil servant’s salary. Whereas this may have been where Zione’s education ended, help2kids was able to reward her hard work and dedication with a sponsorship funded by money and other items donated by current and former help2kids volunteers. As an educated woman, if she chooses to have a family, her children are likely to be healthier, live longer, and get a better education themselves.
|The other student from Lifuwu Basic that we began sponsoring this year is Isaac. He was the only student in Lifuwu selected to attend a government boarding secondary school based on his exam results this year. Isaac is being cared for by his sister, who recently began teaching at Lifuwu Basic Primary School. Unfortunately, her starting teacher’s salary would not cover Isaac’s school fees but help2kids was able to support him through our Education Sponsorship Program. Isaac is very good friends with his former classmate Mark, whom we are sponsoring at Salima Secondary School. Isaac was enrolled earlier in September at Chipoka Secondary School, where another sponsorship student, Godfrey is beginning Form 2. Also a former classmate, Godfrey will show Isaac the ropes at Chipoka where they will be able to support each other over the next year.|
|In addition to supporting each other, our secondary school sponsorship students receive tutoring and attend English or computer classes during term breaks. Lotte from Austria tutored Mustafa, Emmanuel, Mark, and Godfrey in English, Maths, and Physics during their break. She also worked with current Standard 8 students at Kazembe in English and Maths hoping to improve their understanding of these crucial subjects for passing the Primary School Leaving Certificate Exam (PSLCE). help2kids volunteers will continue working alongside government teachers at Kazembe Primary School in order to increase the number of students selected for secondary school in the coming years.|
|We have also begun sponsoring a very special Form 4 student, Alinafe. Like many in Lifuwu, Alinafe’s family funds the education of several children. Her Uncle Arthur has taken this a step further by supporting children outside of his family in addition to direct relations. While this puts a definite financial strain on his family, as a former teacher Arthur can’t stand the idea of withdrawing any of the students. Alinafe is special because she was ranked 7th among students from 15 schools when she was in Standard 8, and was one of only two students from Salima district selected to attend the elite St. Michael’s Girls Secondary School. St. Michael’s is a national level school which only Malawi’s top minds are chosen to attend. Alinafe’s bright future was jeopardized when she brought home news of a breathtaking hike in her school fees. Alinafe, who wants to study dentistry only had one more year to complete, but her chance was almost taken away. help2kids volunteer Heidi stepped in to ensure Alinafe completes her secondary education and can continue her learning as far as she is able.|
|In other news, we would like to congratulate Johnathon on his selection to attend Parachute Community Day Secondary School! Johnathon is the son of Kazembe’s head teacher, Mr. Soko. In the three years that Kazembe has been offering Standard 8 classes, Johnathon is the very first student to score high enough on the PSLCE’s to be selected for a seat at a secondary school. Johnathon has a bright mind and quiet enthusiasm just like his father, and we are sure he will excel in secondary school just as he did at Kazembe. While Johnathon doesn’t display the same financial need for sponsorship as the other students who were selected, we will watch his progress and he will of course be welcome at any of our classes or tutoring sessions.|
On October 11th, we were reminded of the power and potential of young women and girls, celebrating International Day of the Girl Child. The United Nations General Assembly established the day to recognize girls' rights to safety, health, and education. We believe in that right, and in the power of girls and boys to grow into change-makers, leaving the world a little bit better than when they found it, if given basic support and empowerment. Alinafe demonstrates that, with her unceasing drive, as does Zione, Isaac, and the other education sponsorship students we're proud to support.
There are many bright, community-minded people living in Lifuwu including educators, healthcare workers, community leaders, religious leaders, and more. When one person enjoys a success, the many people connected to them also benefit. Entrepreneurs and organizations are constantly working to move development forward, however windfalls and prospects are often difficult to come by, and require long hours of tough work. But for the students highlighted in this post, when opportunity knocks, they will be unwaveringly ready to answer.
Note: We are proud to be currently sponsoring seven secondary students in Malawi! While we are extremely happy to provide this opportunity to an increasing number of students, there are always more bright minds that need just a little nurturing to grow into the future of Malawi. If you would like to support our sponsorship program or for more information, contact Malawi Field Manager, Nicole Barren at email@example.com or visit our Education Sponsorship Program webpage. If you would prefer to make a general donation, please visit https://www.help2kids.org/en/donate/.