Hope dawns on Jean De Dieu!
“Without the scholarship, my life would have been wasted”.
By Francisco Fhote
After more than four failed attempts to find a scholarship for his university education, Jean was depressed. Jean loitered in destitution. He started applying for a scholarship soon after he had finished his secondary school education in 2018. He was unsuccessful twice. Then he tried again a year later, but he was unsuccessful again. A year later, it was the same story. “I was really stressed out seeing that years are going by and I am not getting any opportunities to continue with my tertiary education.” Why was he missing out in all the scholarship applications that he was sending yet he had passed the secondary school examinations with flying colours? Your guess is as good as mine. Jean stayed home for 3 years and ventured into piece works to release his frustrations and forget about his disappointment. He also wanted to support his family from the little he earned from the piece works.
Rwandese by nationality, Jean De Dieu Hakizimana was born in Tanzania in 1998 as his family was moving to Malawi from Rwanda and finally settled in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi in 2000. His father passed away 12 years later while in Malawi. He was left with his mother, older brother and 2 sisters. With a single mother trying to make ends meet by practising subsistence farming, “education was the only passport to get his family out of their poor living conditions”, he narrates. Such that when the National Council for Higher Education in Malawi released a call for applications for entry into public universities in 2020, Jean De Dieu applied. He never gave up. He doesn’t give up. His persistence paid off as the intelligent Jean was over the moon when he was selected to pursue a Bachelor of Geological Engineering at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS). Shortly after, deep worry gripped him. Where would the tuition fees come from? Well, your guess is as good as was his by then.
He huffed and puffed as he knocked on every NGO door available to him for a sponsorship, nobody opened. Hope was lost. You can only imagine what was going through his mind when he realized that he might miss the greatest opportunity of his life because of lacking tuition fees.
Even though Jean knew that it was very unlikely for him to get a scholarship in the blink of an eye, he hoped against hope and proceeded to the university to start his studies. He was enrolled. He was given a grace period for him to source school fees. The grace period elapsed and as fate would have it, Jean returned home to make follow ups with potential sponsors. He was unsuccessful. Still, he returned to the university with a little money that he made through piece works. Upon his return, the university administration advised him to reserve his place as he had lost much of the school calendar activities. “I was very frustrated to hear that I need to reserve my place and that I have only one academic year to reserve, barring that, I will automatically lose my place”, says a calm and relaxed Jean.
He returned home to bask in the adulation of Dzaleka Refugee Camp. While there, he came across the Education Coordinator from There is Hope, a former secondary school teacher of his. He shared his plight with the coordinator and the coordinator invited him to the Annual Information Day where potential beneficiaries learn about the application process for the scholarships. He applied successfully and was over the moon! He got the news during the grace period for paying tuition fees at the university. Finally, Lucky Chap! Jean was relieved to know that he has finally found hope in There is Hope as now someone was taking care of his tuition fees and upkeep allowances.
The genius and humble Jean wants to be a Chief Engineer to monitor buildings in order to observe standard procedures so that injuries and loss of life due to substandard construction work can be avoided. He emphasises that his focus is on preserving human life rather than chasing money as when he lost his father, he felt how painful it is to lose beloved ones. “If the breadwinner dies, the family suffers. We have suffered too..” he narrates. His dear departed father is his inspiration. He was an electrician and a builder. Now in second semester of his first year, Jean thanks all that support the Education Scholarship Program and encourages them to continue doing so as “It is hard for most students that have completed secondary school in Dzaleka Refugee Camp and Dowa district to get the opportunity for them to continue with tertiary education because of poverty…” He says. “As for me, without the scholarship, my life would have been wasted…”, Jean concludes.