Stories that Inspire Hope -Potiphar Moses

After the death of his father in 2007, Potiphar went to live with his elderly mother in Dowa where due to poverty, he dropped out of school in Standard 3 to start herding cattle.

It was four years later that his elder brother Masautso visited him in Dowa and encouraged him to continue with school as it is his only way out of misery. With encouragement from the brother, Potiphar moved from Dowa to Salima where he continued his primary school at Kapiri Primary school.

IMG_2948 Potiphar outside his brother’s house in Salima. 

According to Potiphar, before he dropped out of school, he was not a bright student. But the advice from his brother propelled him to work hard in school, evident by the fact that from the time he started Standard 4 up to 2016 when he wrote his Standard 8 examinations, the only time he failed was when he got position two while in Standard 5, he was always on position One in a class of 29.

In 2016 he wrote his Standard 8 examinations, and he was the only student from Kapiri Primary School to be selected to a conventional secondary school, Salima secondary school.

17-year-old Potiphar is a promising kid, his Standard 8 exam results attest to this:

Science A

Mathematics B

English B

Chichewa A

Social Studies A

Agriculture A

 

Sadly, as the first school term started last year in August, Potiphar’s brother could not afford to pay his school fees. He only stayed in school for the two weeks’ grace period thereafter was sent back home.

 

Schools opened yesterday, but Potiphar is still at home. There is no hope of him going to school.  Fess at Salima secondary school is K65,000 per term.

Potiphar left Dowa with a hope that school would pave way for his future. He did all he could by working hard that he excels in school.

What he needs now, are people who can believe in his ability and help him realize his dream of becoming a Doctor.

 

One thing that struck me as we talked were these words: “I feel bad that I worked hard and was selected to an expensive school. My standard 8 classmates who were selected to Community Day Secondary Schools now leave me at home as they go to school. I wish I were selected to Msalura CDSS, maybe my brother could afford” he said.  Potiphar has proved his academic prowess, let’s come together and help him.

 

If you are not in a position to help, please share Potiphar’s story.

 

 

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For the Community, for the love of People

As a secondary school graduate who did not make it to university besides having good grades in my examination, fears of misery and poverty were looming. Growing up in a community where youths bank all their hope on education, my unsuccessful attempt to go to university meant a bleak future for me.

That was in 2011, unknowingly, a year later, the International Citizen Service would open a path to my new passion and future; volunteerism.

I had spent a year at home as I waited for my next attempt at the University of Malawi entrance examinations when a local non-governmental Organisation, Environment Africa advertised an opening for volunteers to work in the pilot ICS program in 2012.

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Working at one of the farmer’s vegetable garden in 2012

In June 2012, my placement started. It was a journey of mixed emotions.  Our team of three Malawian and six British volunteers struggled to get along in the early days. The Malawian team had never worked with any foreigners so the language and cultural differences somehow challenged the team’s work.

Nevertheless, as our orientation by the Progressio ICS national staff progressed, we learned how to get along.  As I started my volunteer journey, I learned how to work in a team. Previously, I had never worked in a team but ICS gave me a chance to understand people who had different cultures to mine.

Our partner organization Environment Africa worked at helping rural farmers in Salima, Malawi by teaching them sustainable agricultural and natural resources conservation methods.

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With John and Mphatso, part of the ICS team members, learning about beekeeping from local farmers

As the ICS team, we worked on several projects among them teaching income generating activities to local farmers like Bee keeping, growing vegetables through irrigation and woodlot establishment and management.

And as the Malawi team leader, ICS gave me a chance to experience leadership. At 19, I was entrusted to co-lead our team with my UK counterpart John Ferguson.

John was helpful in nurturing my leadership skills as I learnt team management and group dynamics skills. Through our work with ICS, we helped many farmers to learn sustainable Agricultural methods.

One aspect about the ICS which makes it unique is its model of bringing together local and UK volunteers. To most Malawian young people, when we see a British youth sacrificing their time and resources to volunteer in a poor country like Malawi, this sacrifice spurs a spirit of volunteerism within us.

For instance, it has been five years since I participated in the ICS program, but the spirit of volunteerism that it instilled in me still abides.  The ICS program implanted in me a heart to help others and bring change in my community.

In March this year, I noted that many young people in my home district, Salima are dropping out of school. Together with a few friends we started a local initiative called Education Support Initiative.

Through the initiative, we publish stories highlighting the plight of such needy students on social media and call for tuition assistance from willing individuals. Further, through the initiative we visit secondary schools and hold mentorship sessions with students.

Many young people in Malawi drop out of school due to lack of tuition fees and proper guidance. Because of the spirit of helping others that the ICS inspired in me, I am now able to mentor youths and help light a path to their own greatness.

I am currently a student at the University of Malawi pursuing a degree in Communications and Cultural studies.  My passion to study Communications and Culture spurred from my time volunteering in the ICS program.

Working in the rural areas with ICS introduced me to the challenges that many Malawians meet every day.

As I moved from one village to the other with the volunteer team, I always thought of a best way to help bring the challenges of the rural people to light, with this challenge, my dream to study Communications was born.

To me, the ICS program was beyond a chance to interact with UK volunteers; ICS provided me a platform to help my community and ignited a lifelong passion of volunteerism and community development.

* International Volunteer Day (IVD) 2017, “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.”, celebrated worldwide on December 5, is a recognition of the positive solidarity of volunteers around the world who answer calls in times of crisis, helping save lives today and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow. #VolunteersActFirst

MY BIRTHDAY NOTE; PLEASE! READ THIS STORY.

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These students from Malowa CDSS will not sit for their end of term exams.

“… but she doesn’t know her daughter’s birthday and doesn’t understand why anyone would need to know because nobody celebrates birthdays in the slum” Tim Crothers’s narration in my current read ‘The Queen of Katwe’, is a close depiction of the life I’ve lived.

As I celebrated my 24th birthday yesterday, it dawned on me how eventless and unnoticed this day was years ago.

These were days when Martha, my twin sister, mum and myself would know that we have an anniversary to merry over. Of course, it was with thanksgiving prayers and a potful of boiled raw maize cobs and pumpkins.

The advent of Facebook now gives a few friends a chance to scribble “hbd’ on my wall. To those so caring, maybe sending a little gift.

As I grow, there is more to life than just me. The first three months have opened my eyes to acknowledging noticing the struggles of others and reaching out.

With help of virtual and real life friends, I started an initiative to help send needy secondary students in Salima, my home district, to school.

I wrote an appeal on my previous blog; My Story, Their Story where I asked well-wishers to help me save some 20 students from being chased out of school.

I am so grateful to all friends and supporters who sacrificed their money and achieved the objective.

As I write, the 20 students are in school because of your various donations. I am grateful!

Then why am I writing this on my birthday?

I have met students with sad stories. Teachers who are sad because a best forming student in their class dropped out.

Headteachers who have lists of students who did not report for their Form One after being selected.

I am saddened. Prospects of these youths with potential quitting school because of poverty force me to write.

Then, a thought came to me and my five friends; Peter Yollam, John Namalenga Jnr, Doreen Ndovie, Ezelina Kamaliza and Morton Sibale to come together under the banner of Education Support Initiative (ESI)  and committed that we will help these kids go to back in class.

Each of us is making own initiatives to at least find people to sponsor at least one student. The school fees per term range from K10, 000 ($13) in community day secondary schools to K46, 000($65) per term boarding secondary schools.

With this blog, I aim to find sponsors for 14 students from Malowa Community Day secondary schools who may not write their end of term examinations because they have not paid their tuition fees.

As a belated birthday gift to me, please celebrate with me by sponsoring at least one student from Malowa Community Day Secondary School.

Are you up for the challenge?

I’ll send you a list of the 14 students from the school with their stories and a photo, and from there you can choose one or many students.

I know my friends don’t disappoint. Help me celebrate my birthday.

Contact me:

+265993174149

samuelhbanda@outlook.com

Am waiting!

“I STAND WITH GIRLS”, beyond the #Hashtags

On 6th February I shared a story about 17-year-old Lyna Rajab who was on the verge of dropping out of school.
A month later, I am excited to report that I escorted Lyna to Salima Secondary school yesterday.
A BIG THANK you to all members of the ‘Lyna’s Hope’ Facebook group who selflessly contributed money to enable Lyna to go to school.

THANK YOU to all who shared Lyna’s story with family and friends. THANK YOU to all who were praying for the success of the initiative.
Without your action, Lyna’s story would go down as one of the most ‘liked’ post without any impact.
Beyond the #IStandWithGirls hashtag, there are people really standing with girls.
I am overwhelmed!!

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Lyna at Salima Secondary School. 

 

Lyna, A 17-year-old girl whose future is at stake.

 

Losing her dad at 9, her mother a year later, and being the first born in a family of six would have been enough for her to quit hoping. But Lyna, a Form One student at Msalura Community Day Secondary School is not giving up.Lyna Rajab 17, lives with her poor ailing grandmother. For her first term’s tuition, her granny had to sell one of her two goats, with

Lyna Rajab 17, lives with her poor ailing grandmother. For her first term’s tuition, her granny had to sell one of her two goats, with hope that some organisation would help the second term, but that failed.

As they were selling the second goat that they pay for this term’s school fees, the Malawi National Examinations Board Examinations released its second selection list and Lyna has been selected to Salima Secondary school.

As I write, Lyna has until the end of March to report to her new school or her place will be declared vacant.

Lyna walks over five kilometres from Gwilize to her current school Msalura CDSS every day. And to reach her school, she has to cross Linthipe River, which is now making it hard for her to go school because of the rains; the river is flooding.

Lyna is a bright girl. She is the only girl one to be selected to a boarding secondary school this year from her community. Lyna has the potential to become a role model, not only to her five siblings but also her community where

Before this term ends on 7th April, Lyna needs school fees (K46, 000), and other necessities to enable her go to school.

I believe in Lyna’s ability. I am sure once helped she will work hard as her primary school results have shown.

After sharing this story with a friend this afternoon, we have raised K 15,000. We need a few people who can stand with us and help Lyna.

Get in touch if you believe we can get Lyna to Salima secondary school.

+265 993 174 149/ +265 888 215 826

e-mail: samuelhbanda@outlook.com

 

 

MY STORY, THEIR STORY.

Nothing breaks my heart like a secondary school student failing to attend school because they lack tuition fees. I have been through it, I know how much it hurts.

In 2007, I was selected to Msalura Community Day Secondary School in the lakeshore district of Salima; by then, tuition was at K2,500 ($4) per term. My two elder brothers were already in Form four, about to complete their secondary school and were both supported by my mother.Running a small business of selling

Running a small business of selling second-hand clothes, she could not afford to pay for the three of us. , So we reached an agreement that I stay home that year and start school in 2008 when my two brothers are done with their studies.

I was not bitter.  I have known her to be a loving mother, and this was the only option she had. Nevertheless, it was hurtful to see my burning desire for school die just like that.

If it wasn’t for a humanitarian NGO and some well-wishers that came to my rescue, my future would predictably have had been either in jail or the grave having had tried to survive using unorthodox means.  My mother’s business, which I had hoped to rely on, collapsed even before my brothers finished Form four.

However, today, I don’t write to narrate my mixture of desperation, hope, confusion and then hope again. In writing, I write to speak to you about the plight of more than 20 secondary school students whom I know personally. They are all struggling to pay their tuition.  Some of them haven’t gone to school since the new school term opened on 3rd January 2017. These children, I must emphasise, are hardworking and passionate.

At my Diploma  graduation last year. 

I am currently based in Salima, working with Cornerstone Ministries Malawi, a local NGO that works at improving the lives of young people. With a reputation of helping youths, almost every week we receive parents and youths asking for school fees. The organisation I am working with has tried to help but the funds haven’t been that sufficient.

With this challenge, I took it upon myself to help those I could manage. I started by helping around 20 students apply for scholarships offered through Maphunziro265, an initiative by some well-meaning Malawians. Out of the 20, only one, Annetie Maganga was sponsored, leaving the other 19 still in need.

Still haunted by the remaining students, I personally committed to paying school fees for four students from my personal money that were for their September to December 2016 term. As for this term, I have only managed to pay for one student as I am also struggling to raise funds for my education because I am supposed to complete my Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Cultural Studies at Chancellor College come March.

As I write, I am sad that these capable young people are about to witness their dreams become nightmares because they have no money for tuition.

I am determined not to see these young people fail. It hurts me whenever I am talking to them, the way they outline their vision, and how it seems to fade.

With whatever amount you can choose to commit, it can make a difference. The tuition fees range from K 7,500 (eq. $10) per term in community day secondary schools and K45, 000 (eq. $60) per term in conventional secondary schools.

If you make a commitment to paying even for one term I’ll ensure that you get information on the student you have paid for and get a receipt from the school.

You can contact me on my mobiles +265 993 174 149 /+265 888 215 826, alternatively, you can email me samuelhbanda@outlook.com or find me on Facebook; Samuel Malasa Banda.

Let us stand together and give these young people a chance at education.

Standing together against our foe

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To empower the enemy, we were supposed to cover our heads in shame. We would put on sack cloth and mourn with ash on our heads for those he has devoured.

Instead, we choose to preach abstinence to our youths. We have agreed to show love and compassion to those he has bedridden. Together we have vowed to end stigma and discrimination. It’s true not all of us have been infected, but almost every household has been affected.

In this time we are living, we have all accepted that HIV/AIDS resides among us, but as a nation there is a need to stand in solidarity rather than ostracizing those living positively.

As a nation, a little ride into the memory lane will prove that 2016 is a year that has torn apart the fabric that holds us together as Malawians. Debates on homosexuality and abortions have caused daggers to be drawn in the body of Christ; the church, the very haven that we hoped would unite us.

Amid all the heat, one fact cannot be argued; that HIV/AIDS continues to prey on us. Silently wrecking homes, a disease that has left 530 000 hopeless and helpless orphans in the care or lack thereof the many mushrooming non-governmental organizations, of which many of them just remind the kids the pangs of orphan-hood.

Where do we go from here?

That is the question that every well-meaning citizen is supposed to ponder on. For many campaigns have been championed, all aimed at fighting the Aids pandemic.

With HTC service centers scattered across the country, ART treatment readily available to those diagnosed and many organizations preaching the gospel of abstinence and faithfulness, what role can a common citizen play?

There is a need to go back to the social fabric that has for years tightened us together; unity and solidarity. It is time to stand with those infected and affected. Together, we can end AIDS.