The Girl Who Got Saved
Their house is small, dry floored with mud and still in the construction phase. It stands alone along a dusty road and is among one of the several of such houses in this rural community. This is the remotest part of Dowa district, about 22 kilometres away. Two goats lie lazily just near the front door and a few chickens swarm the compound. Behind the house there are traditional maize silos where the owners store their harvests. This is the house of Mr. and Mrs Jevani. As we approached the compound, a smiling man in black gumboots welcomed us and ushered us into the house.
It is Mr. Jevani. The Jevanis have a small plot where they farm for a living. It is through this small farm that they support their 5 children. One of the children is Enelesi. She is the fourth born and the pride of the family. As a matter of fact, it is because of Enelesi that we were there.
“She is a bright kid.” Mrs Jevani, who joined us a few minutes later spoke with a wide smile. She explained that since primary school, the girl has always been among the cream of her class.
“She shows determination at whatever she does. No wonder she has been among the top five since primary.” Mr Jevani chirped in. The two admitted that they struggled a lot to put not only Enelesi but also the other 5 children through school, but still managed to support Enelesi until she was selected to secondary school. Things went upside down from there.
“We could not afford her fees in secondary school.” Mr. Jevani continued sadly “The first weeks began with a real struggle.” He said they failed to buy school uniform, text books or even ballpoint pens. The Jevanis do not have close relatives that could have helped them support Enelesi. Even worse, Enelesi’s selection to secondary school affected the family’s finances since they spent a lot on her education. Some of the children were forced to drop out of school because it was getting too expensive to provide for them. Mrs Jevani said they thought this would be a solution but it was not. When they realized that it was impossible to keep the girl in secondary school, the parents decided to withdraw her.
Enelesi was devastated.
“She cried bitterly and refused to eat for three days.” Mrs Jevani recounted. Enelesi’s father started looking for other ways of rescuing her daughter. He registered Enelesi with the Social Welfare Office. They were told to wait but the father knew that the chances of finding quick assistance were minimal. The Jevanis were in despair.
Then something unexpected happened.
Through the Social Welfare office, we got hold of her name and she was put on the list of our secondary school scholarship beneficiaries. She was successful and became a recipient of the scholarship. The grant took out the financial burden from the Jevanis. It covered all expenses from tuition and school uniforms to transportation costs.
“Words alone cannot express the appreciation we have for There is Hope.” Explained Mr Jevani. He said the scholarship rescued Enelesi from becoming a potential school drop out, saying the family can now focus on educating the other children since a large chunk of their challenge has been lifted. The man observed that her daughter is now one of the “happiest girls ever”. Enelesi has maintained her excellent performance, proving that she is determined to utilize the scholarship to its full potential. The recent academic report shows that she achieved position number 4 in a class of 76.
“You saved her!” Mrs Jevani smiled. That is exactly what our secondary school scholarship programme is for – to ‘save’ vulnerable and deserving girls from dropping out of school due to financial problems. In Malawi, out of 100 Malawian girls who begin primary school, only 3 will progress to secondary school. Financial problems are the biggest setback to the education of girls in the country. With funding from our partners Segal Family Foundation and the Torrington/Winsted Rotary Club in Connecticut, USA, we strive at keeping the vulnerable girl child in school. Their sponsorship is helping us to help in uplifting the education of vulnerable communities, one girl at a time.