MY BIRTHDAY NOTE; PLEASE! READ THIS STORY.

IMG_0057.JPG
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!

Advertisements

“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!!

17016973_1210508409063922_5507783407312698434_o
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

hiv-aids-prevention-vaccine-invented-by-kenyan-student

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.

Dawn of a new era: a generation of achievers

You have heard of albino killings in Malawi, but you might not have heard of Maphunziro265. Countless corruption scandals have made headlines in the dailies, but does the name Maestros Leadership Company ring a bell?

At a time others deem Malawi a banana republic; a failed state, there is a certain sect that refuses to hum the infamous tune.

Writing for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Andrews Atta-Asamoah, senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa notes “Sub-Saharan Africa is a region where people aged between 15 and 29 will continue to constitute about half of the population of most countries for the next three to five decades.”

To substantiate the threat that a large dormant youthful population poses to the country, picture the 2014 tripartite elections where youths were mostly used as political party poster toys, sad.

Fed up with the placard carrier role youths have been playing in the country, some have dared to take a path of change and challenge the status quo.

With great pride and humility they have vowed to change the face of being young in Malawi. I bet a revolution has begun.

I write not as a griot for individuals who might be out to make names for themselves, but to appreciate the undertakings of a few who believe that life is beyond their tummies. Those who have stretched their hand to touch other less fortunate youths, acts worth commending, I come to praise these.

Recently, a group under the banner Maphunziro265 has risen among other things to source scholarships for underprivileged youths. Using a very simple procedure, they have developed a website where selfless individuals are sacrificing their money to provide scholarships to help pay for tuition for students studying in Community Day Secondary Schools. I believe, this is an act worth emulating.

Maestros Leadership Company, Klesis Education Initiative, and many others are in the same spirit; helping students dive their way into their destiny. If this is not progress, then redefine the meaning.

beyond-you
The Beyond You team with supporters

 

 

Four months ago, six youths walked 362 kilometres, from Lilongwe to Blantyre to raise K22 million for equipment at the High Dependency Unit of Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH). It was not because one of their own was sick, as we usually raise an alarm button when our famous artists are down, No! It was all in the spirit of making a difference.

With beautiful smiles, after beating the K22 million target by an additional K6 million, they have unveiled the KCH state-of-the-art unit with modern facilities of international standards.  This day, the names Wanangwa Msutu, Duwa Mvula, Milca Mphepo, Tiyanjane Kapalamula, Ruth Gondwe, Ivy Chilingulo and Kalolo Msaka, will go down the memory lane as patriots who left their comfort zone and walked for the common good.

With an education system that has tuition fees skyrocketing beyond the people’s income, the hope of education being a golden ticket to glory is fading as the voucher is now being handed only to those with a signature in society.

Sickeningly, even the few who manage to graduate from the hard-fought education, the new normal called ‘experience’ and ‘connections’ weighs them down It’s more like the system is deliberately skewed to embarrass the have-nots. Sickening!

Challenges aside, this fighting generation has not lost it all, that is if you have ever heard of forums like Blantyre Entrepreneur Pitch Night, Ticheze Youth forum, MHub, Youth Inspiration Movement and several others spread unevenly across the country.

Using these platforms, youths are sharing entrepreneurial and life skills which can help them sail through this troubled economy through self-employment and voluntary work. If this doesn’t call for a celebration, then what should we celebrate for as a nation?

Our founding fathers fought for independence in 1964, 29 years later and the revolutionaries brought us democracy, a concept which is yet to be understood if ever we will. 52 years after independence the Malawian youths have begun a revolution. They are up for more than mere promises which they have been fed on since democracy.

And the difference? The youths have chosen to start the search for a revolution from within. On their own, they have taken an initiative to better lives of those on the lower end.

Their strides assert; Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about influencing one another. Get ready, a generation of action is on the rise.

Breaking the silence, Getting to Zero.  

world-aids-day

Take a minute and imagine…

Your parents warn you against a grievous beast roaming your village. Continuously they describe how the animal gallantly catches its prey. They warn you against going out at night. A year goes without anyone mentioning some of the beast’s victims. All that goes around are stories of the enemy. The closest you get to hear of the adversary’s exploits are deaths of which no one directly points to the enemy

 “A dead body was found by the roadside last night, others say it was the beast, others think he fell to robbers.” Rumours go around. It becomes more confusing, as the beast has no peculiar signs when he strikes. His crawls are similar to the lion, tiger, and hyena. Stories are told of others who have even been bitten by the beast. But no one has ever admitted.  Years go. Your parents are now dead. The story crosses generation. People still afraid of the beast. 

To me, HIV/AIDS is more like this beast.

Popularly acclaimed as a killer, but with no seen evidence of the prey save for paper statistics. Am yet to witness, but I have never attended a funeral where attendants were told that the deceased succumbed to the virus.

Am I saying we should shame the deceased that they have died of the virus? No!

The mentality that everyone who is HIV positive is promiscuous is one factor why the battle against HIV is very futile.  A veil of secrecy.

Those found positive are side-lined, ridiculed and poked at.

In the media we create a friendly environment for testing, with our actions and words we preach discrimination.

HIV/AIDS patients are still concealed in our communities. Being an opportunist disease, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer and others have put the face of HIV. And the disgrace? Everyone who has cancer or has tuberculosis is without doubt classified to be positive.

As said, that acceptance is the first step towards healing, the getting to zero theme will only be achieved if we accept that we have those living positively amongst us. And that will be possible only if we create a conducive and loving environment for them to disclose their status.

In commemorating the World Aids Days; we have a choice to plant our feet in the sand and pretend we all die of malaria, cancer, but not HIV/AIDS.  It’s just a disease that starves its patients but doesn’t kill.