Turning the Wheels of Faith
When Faith’s brother passed away, the girl’s secondary school education came to a complete standstill. He was the one paying her tuition and with his demise, Faith had no alternative source of money. Her brother had been providing for her ever since their parents died over 10 years ago. Faith was stranded. She was in Form 3 and was remaining with only a year to complete her secondary school studies but she saw her future crumbling.
The 18-year-old moved in to live with her uncle but that changed nothing. Faith’s uncle did not earn enough income to send her to school. In fact, he could not even manage to meet the needs of his own children, let alone pay for their tuition.
“You know, school demands materials like textbooks, uniforms, pens and pocket money for meals. My uncle is poor and could not afford these.” She said. Faith realized that if she did not do something, her education and dreams to become a nurse would be washed down the drain.
“I started looking for ways of raising my own money to pay school fees and resume my classes.” She explained, saying “I started baking and selling mandazi (doughnuts) and boiled potatoes.” From her little earnings, Faith managed to save some money to settle her fees and resumed her classes. However, it was only for a single term. The money she made from her small business was not sufficient to sustain school fees for the whole year. The girl got kicked out of school and found herself back home, confused and distressed.
For the remaining two terms, Faith was stuck home.
“I was hurt. I lost all hopes of pursuing my education.” She recollected with a sad look, her expression distant as she recalled the unpleasant memories. Faith’s stay at home was long and painful because missing two terms meant that she had to start Form 3 all over again and that would take another year. Worse still, in her case, that depended on the availability of fees which, Faith said, she highly doubted would happen anytime soon.
“I was just silently waiting and hoping for an opportunity to present itself.” She breathed a sad sigh and dropped her face into her palms.
Well, that sad sigh is no longer present.
Faith’s story took a happy turn in September this year. She was among the 7 girls who received education scholarships courtesy of our Secondary School Scholarship Programme. Her hopes resurfaced, her worries vanished. She commenced her first term on 18 September. It gets better; the scholarship saw Faith moving from a day secondary school to a quality boarding school. She is one happy person now and her expression is no longer sorrowful.
“When I heard that my application had been selected and I was among the successful people to receive a scholarship, I nearly wept right there on the phone.” She smiled widely as she fondly expressed her delight. For someone who never expected to be back in school, the news stunned Faith. “I rushed to the bathroom and sobbed in disbelief. I could not believe I was returning to class.”
Faith has inspirations to be a role model to girls. Actually, Faith is the only girl in her village to advance to secondary school. She said that a lot of girls in her community dropped out of school. Several are married. Faith is confident that the scholarship she has just been awarded will help her become an example to fellow girls.
Thus starts her journey to realize her dream.
Only 46 percent of girls in Malawi are enrolled in secondary schools. That leaves the remaining 54 percent out of school with no expectation of progressing with their education. In the rural communities, the situation is worse because there is a high rate of school dropouts among girls. This is so because, among others, many parents cannot afford to pay school fees past primary school.
Our secondary school scholarship programme exists to promote the education of vulnerable girls like Faith by putting them back in school. With each scholarship we award, we turn their wheels of education, one girl at a time.