Personal Stories

Julius, a mature student in his mid-thirties, was placed on the scholarship waiting list. He was close to the bottom. Douglas, Director of Future Planning for the Child and tireless advocate for the poor, kept mentioning his name: Let’s not forget Julius; he is really in dire need. Well, one day Julius called again hoping against hope. After a good talk with Julius, we contacted the Centre for Open and Distance Learning at the University of Mzuzu and learned that Julius, due to lack of funds, had to drop out of teacher education in the second semester of the academic year 2013/14, two terms short of receiving the diploma in (high school) teacher education. He had lost his temporary part-time job in a small school library, which kept him above water. MK 30,000 ($65), his entire income from the library, went toward first-term tuition, the remaining MK 60,000 ($130) and the full tuition for the second term remained unpaid in spite of Julius’ best efforts to secure a new part-time job – a tall order in Karonga, Northern Malawi! The director of Mzuzu Open and Distance Learning gave an excellent reference for Julius. Payment of the remaining balance of the first term and of the second term was possible thanks to a scholarship provided by a donor. Julius is now assisting the scholarship program as a volunteer receiving a honorarium for his efforts. He attends to various tasks related to the pro bono management of the scholarship funds.

Brian was born blind. He fought his way through high school, which he finished with good results in the Malawi School Certificate of Education (high school diploma). For a time, it looked like he would lose the fight for college education, but Brian kept moving mountains made up from lack of funds, prejudice against the disabled, administrative inertia and, of course, the many special challenges he is facing as a blind person. He was introduced to the scholarship program by a long-time missionary to Malawi who met Brian when he was still in high school. Brian was a real doer, already then. There is no government social network in Malawi; the only hope of the disabled is in “God who helps those who help themselves.” Since a college education can turn the life of a disabled person from dead-end begging to productivity and personal happiness in a regular professional job and thus make an even bigger difference for a disabled person than for an able-bodied, Brian was a strong candidate for a scholarship. He is now  studying at the University of Malawi, successfully dealing with ever new challenges, among them availability of costly specialized equipment, like a speech recognition machine. There is no doubt, Brian will continue to be an outstanding advocate for the blind!