“This scholarship is my breakthrough!”
When Kelvin Ndayisaba tells his story, it is both amusing and, to a certain extent, alarming. He narrates the tale with a visible expression of disbelief and gratitude on his face. Disbelief because he did not foresee a sudden positive transformation in his life and gratitude because he was offered what he calls “a turning point” to reach for his vision. Well, he has all the reasons to smile. His previous state of affairs was marred by hopelessness because for years he had been seeking an opportunity to pursue a university education, to no avail. It was even worse because Kelvin is a refugee in Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
His story has a happy ending but the transformation from tears to joy has been a bumpy ride.
“I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” He started. “My parents were killed in 1996 during a civil war in the country.” Kelvin and his family were victims of ethnic discrimination, which was the main reason he escaped DR Congo to Kenya. His tribe is Banyamulenge, a minority tribe which faced constant attacks and harassment because, as Kelvin put it, of its ancestral background in Rwanda. Kelvin was in his second year at university studying for a degree in education when he started receiving serious death threats that forced him to be on the run.
“Since then I have been living in different refugee camps in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.” He said. It was in January 2011 when Kelvin, his wife and child, arrived at Malawi’s largest refugee camp, Dzaleka. Life in a refugee camp is hardly easy since one is forced to live on food available in quotas while simultaneously trying to adjust to new life in a strange country.
“It was rough in the [Dzaleka] camp. I had nobody to depend on and I felt isolated.” Recalled Kelvin, while admitting that it was very hard for him to access basic needs for his family. The situation was made miserable because he was not employed, which crippled his ability to support his welfare. The pressure to raise a kid and fend for his family without a stable job eventually gave way to deep frustrations. To block what he was going through, Kelvin found solace in alcohol.
“I was desperate. When you are unemployed, you go through many different problems. I used to drink and I was a notorious person. I was the last person to leave the bar at midnight!” Kelvin laughed at the old memories. He disclosed that he felt that he had “nothing to expect in future” and he resorted to drinking to stay distracted. This affected his family and ruined his relationship with his wife.
“I was not in good terms with my family. Frankly speaking, as a married person you cannot come at midnight and expect to be okay with your wife.”
His infamous drinking habits also gained him wrong popularity with law authorities in the refugee camp.
“I was caught up in all this because my life had no proper framework.” He confessed. Although Kelvin’s life was wildly spinning in the wrong direction, he was making attempts to source financial support to return to college and complete his studies. Kelvin had spent a great deal of his life on the move, transferring from one refugee camp to another and for a decade he failed to resume his studies. He faced the same dilemma in Malawi as he desperately tried to find scholarship opportunities to go back to university. He almost gave up his efforts and nearly let it go, until he was introduced to There is Hope’s University Scholarship Programme. Kelvin approached our offices and applied for a scholarship opportunity. He successfully passed through all the required processes and received a scholarship in 2015 to pursue a degree in Social Sciences at a private university in Malawi’s Capital, Lilongwe. Suddenly his dream had materialized.
The good news both shocked and surprised him.
“It was astonishing! I knew that now my tomorrow must be greater than my past.” He smiled. Kelvin called that moment a “breakthrough” in his life because there was hope where he felt hopeless. He said he feels that now he is an important person in the community, adding that the scholarship has made him become more responsible.
“I realized that I have to pull myself from the dump I was in and rise up to see what’s out there.” He explained. Kelvin disclosed that his life is now on the right track, calling the education opportunity a breakthrough to a prosperous life. For someone who spent 10 years waiting to return to college, it may appear like it is now too late to recommence studies but Kelvin believes otherwise.
“I am a goal oriented person. Time does not matter to me.” He commented, “What matters is to hit my target.”
At There is Hope, we believe that education is key to economic growth. Our education scholarship programme will continue fishing out vulnerable people from desperation and aid them towards achieving their education dreams.