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Rescued at college

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.

True to his ambition, Limbikani is currently pursuing a degree in Food Sciences at the University of Malawi. However, to reach where he is now, Limbikani went through a rough journey. Limbikani is an orphan – his parents died when he was just 6, leaving him in the care of his grandfather who took over the responsibility of his education, from primary school and part of his secondary school.

His grandfather worked as a Field Officer for a government microloan department. When he retired a few years later and could no longer afford his education, Limbikani found himself in a pickle and had to leave yet again and this time he moved in with his aunt. Like his grandfather, Limbikani’s aunt struggled to sustain his secondary school education and Limbikani’s ambitions to reach college were nearly thwarted.

“I could almost see myself dropping out of secondary school. It was a painful experience because I was just a year away from completing my form four and very close to going to college”, Limbikani recalled. Form four is the final year in Malawi’s secondary schools and it is a crucial stage since it is where students sit for the national examinations that determines their selection to universities. Failing to complete this step meant that Limbikani’s goal of pursuing further studies at a university was dead and gone.

Despite the gloomy situation, Limbikani sat his national examinations and passed with excellent grades. His dream to reach college materialized because he was selected to study a degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of Malawi, however, his challenges took on a new form. The cost of the course he was about to pursue was MK360,000 (approximately USD514) per year, which was multiple times higher than what Limbikani and his aunt could manage. The worst part was that Limbikani was supposed to raise that amount before he commenced the first semester of his first year or he risked losing his place at the college.

Limbikani knew that it was an impossible feat but he did not let that challenge cause his dream to slip away. He was determined to find that money at all costs.

“I started doing minor businesses like fixing electronics for people and selling small items like cellphones. It was a very slow process but I managed to raise 20 percent of the amount”. He explained. It took Limbani eight months to raise that figure. With the help of her aunt who topped up the amount, they put together MK200,000 which Limbani used to enrol for the first semester.

Limbikani still had a chunk of balance left to settle but he had no idea where he would find the finances. He tried applying for a student loan from a government programme but he was not successful. He applied for sponsorship from four different organizations but that too never worked. Limbikani said that it was a very stressful period for him. It reached an extent where he failed to fully concentrate in class.

“I went to class dreading that any moment any day, someone from the academics department would step in, call my name and chase me out because I had an outstanding tuition fees balance. How can you concentrate with that in mind?” What really ate at Limbikani was that he was in his first year and to fully complete his degree course, he was supposed to raise over 1 million Kwacha for the remaining three years. Considering his volatile financial situation, that was highly impractical.

All was not over for Limbikani. In his quest to find help, he was made aware of our university scholarship programme through one of our beneficiaries in Dzaleka Refugee Camp. With high expectation, Limbikani applied for sponsorship in our programme and he was on the list of successful students that we started sponsoring in 2017. It was the answer he had been searching for. The best part was that he had been given full scholarship which meant that we would be responsible for paying the full amount of his course. Limbikani explained that he suddenly felt like a heavy boulder had been heaved off him. He was very close to dropping out of college, he said, and the scholarship had eliminated that risk while securing his future.

“Truth be told my college days were numbered. Without There is Hope’s scholarship I know I would have surely withdrawn from college but now I can peacefully sleep at night with the assurance that my tuition fees are being taken care of”, he disclosed. Limbikani is adamant that the scholarship will help him achieve his big post-college vision of becoming an entrepreneur and setting up a company that would help rural farmers process their agricultural produces. He said that a lot of rural farmers remain among the impoverished because they do not have the means to produce finished products that can be marketed at profitable prices. His goal is to help the farmers while at the same time alleviating their poverty and providing employment.

Our university scholarship programme was set up to assist vulnerable yet deserving and visionary youths like Limbikani to pursue university studies and achieve their aspirations. Through the financial support of One Collective, we continue sponsoring Limbikani and several other refugees and Malawians in private and public colleges with the aim of contributing to a better world of educated productive young men and women.