When asked about the profession she would love to pursue, she sat upright, looked utterly confident and gave an answer that is least expected from a 15-year-old girl. Even more pleasantly surprising is that it is a profession that will make her the first woman in the country to hold it and perhaps the second person to have that title.
Ishimwe, a refugee from Burundi, arrived in Dzaleka Camp in 2007 after being transferred from Luwani Refugee Camp following its closure. Unlike most refugees in Dzaleka, Ishimwe was self-sufficient and never experienced any financial hurdles. She ran a grocery shop in the Camp, which made her enough income to support her family. Ishimwe has a big family of 11 children but she was able to feed them from the money she realized from the shop. When an unfortunate incident left her first-born daughter with a perforated eardrum and a mild physical disability, Ishimwe’s financial status started crashing down.
“Nursing is a calling…,” Ednas said and smiled briskly. It is a calling, she added, that she heard at a tender age when she was still in primary school. In fact, according to Ednas, nursing is a passion that is embedded in her DNA and when she was young, she always had this strong urge to help the sick and the wounded. That same passion lights up her face when she talks about her vision in nursing and how she wants to help build a better healthy community in her village. Ednas has just completed her nursing course and is awaiting to sit for her examinations to acquire a Medical License. She can now see her dream and aspirations taking shape but four years ago those dreams were in ruins.
In most rural communities of Malawi, the idea of a woman studying a construction-related vocational trade like plumbing, is heavily frowned upon. Parents discourage their daughters from being involved in such courses and many people are offended by the presence of a girl wearing a work suit. It is considered a taboo. The reason is simple; the cultural belief in most villages is that construction courses belong to males and women belong in the kitchen. 19-year-old Ethel is one of the girls who found herself in that scenario when she decided to enrol for a plumbing course in our vocational training programme.
In 2009, Abdullah stepped foot in Dzaleka Refugee Camp. He had escaped his home country DR Congo; forced to leave because of a fierce civil war and partly due to a raging family feud that threatened his life. He had not come alone – he was a responsible father with two children, a wife and two of his nephews to look after. Back there in DRC, Abdullah had a decent job as a secondary school teacher and he earned a good salary but that was now all gone and Abdullah’s status changed to ‘refugee’. Survival was paramount and Abdullah knew this but then surviving without any form of employment and no business to bring in money was a big hassle.
His name is Limbikani, which in English translates to ‘work hard’. The meaning of his name aligns perfectly to his character and zeal. Limbikani is a determined, hard working 23-year-old young man who has aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur. He has encountered several hardships, most of which nearly forced him to give up and drop out of school. But he did not. Despite the hurdles he faced, he kept pushing because he had one goal in mind – to go to college, get a degree and become an entrepreneur.
It was in 2017 when Joyce and her two sisters stepped foot in Dzaleka Refugee Camp from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marking the start of their lives as refugees. What forced Joyce and her sisters to flee DRC was the murder of their parents by rival tribal factions. Joyce’s parents were from two separate tribes which, apparently had a history of bad blood between them. Although there seemed to be peaceful co-existence between the tribes in the early stages of their marriage, the peace was to be short-lived.
Following the demise of his father in 2013, John’s journey to complete his education was hit a sudden blow. Worse, John’s father, a renowned carpenter in the village that John comes from, provided for the family and his death crippled the family’s finances. John’s mother is not employed and her main means of survival was on her husband which meant that she was now left alone to take care of John, his brother and younger sister. Although John comes from a family of seasoned subsistence farmers, they barely made enough money from the sales of their crops to keep the family sustained. Actually, the carpentry business that John’s father ran complemented the family’s small-scale farming but now since he was gone, John’s mother found herself solely relying on the farm.
Nikiza’s story begun with a tragic prologue. Her escape from the Democratic Republic of Congo into a gloomy life as a refugee in Malawi’s Dzaleka Camp was something Nikiza never anticipated. Her heart-breaking tale starts in 2013 when Nikiza, who is originally from Burundi, married a man from DR Congo. Marriages are supposed to bring joy and happiness to one’s life and actually that is what Nikiza expected but something to the contrary happened. The man she married to was from a tribe that had a long history of enmity with the minority tribe that Nikiza belonged to.
He is a refugee from Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and an alumnus of our Bible school. He was among the first fruits of our Bible school, having graduated in 2017. When he confidently talks about the valuable training that he got from the Bible school, it is easy to note that what Charles gained is more than the Certificate in Biblical and Ministerial Studies that he now proudly possesses. What pushed him to join our Bible school is nothing more than the desire to become better at his work as a minister. Charles explained that he had been working in different positions at different levels of church administration from deacon to marriage counsellor and finally as Church Administrator. However, he still did not feel satisfied with the way he was working.