NEWS | CHARITY | EDUCATION
By Chifundo Zingunde
It is 7:30 AM. Vincent Chipeta* nine, (*not real name) was supposed to be in class, sitting for his Standard Five end of term examinations. Unfortunately, his mother has ordered him to babysit his two sibblings. The mother, a single-parent, has trekked down town to fetch for some pieceworks.
At his school, Vincent has been a habitual absentee. At times, he does dare to go to school. The sight of a tattered clothed Vincent, barefooted and with sores on his feet courtesy of long walks to school, makes him a laughing stock.
Such a scenario demotivates hapless Vincent from properly attaining his right to education. No matter how hard he tries to like education, but his condition does not.
With time, Vincent opts for a ‘safe haven’ where he does not face the wrath of his peers. He quits school.
Such a scenario is a common sight for pupils in most primary schools in Chiradzulu district. More often than not, abject poverty is forcing promising pupils to bid formal education goodbye.
It is so unfortunate that such scenarios are becoming an everyday song when elsewhere, stories of some iconic humanitarians, the late Mother Teresa, Bill Gates et al have been bailing societies as Vincent’s from their hapless conditions have also been ringing our minds.
As others have been ball-watching such scenarios as Vincent’s, one student teacher, 21-year-old Mervis Mwai Maigwa, has done something that has never been heard of before; not in Malawi anyway.
For starters, Mervis is a student teacher, at Chiradzulu Teachers Training College. Having observed the adverse economic conditions her pupils (at Maravi Primary where she is doing her teaching practice) were facing, Mervis took a bold step by sourcing assorted items to bail out 100 pupils with assorted materials.
From writing materials, school uniforms, school shoes, and other clothes, Mervis has managed to make the 100 needy souls smile all the way to and from school.
Through her Facebook account, Mervis embarked on a global campaign mobilizing funds to uplift the said innocent souls.
According to her, humanitarian activities going out to needy students are part of her mission to change the world and offer a balanced learning environment.
The 21-year-old student teacher noted with grief that pupils from well-to-do families were having a fair learning environment than those from economically disadvantaged families.
“There are so many factors that hinder children from reaching their goals and potentials, poverty, being the primary factor. With poverty, many children are demotivated from attending classes, and if they do, they’re mostly not attentive in class since they lack a lot of things to keep them focused hence perform poorly in class,” Said Mervis.
Dreams of a brighter day
Mervis dreams of a better Malawi where all children of school-going age, regardless of their economic status, access equal education in Malawi.
“My goal is to make sure that needy children in various schools and districts around Malawi are given the necessary equipment to make sure that the teaching and, learning process is effective.” She says.
That is not all. Maravi primary school, according to Mervis, is just a starting point of her journey.
“I dream of extending the help to other schools in the country. I feel we all need to take active roles in changing the current status quo,” she said.
In the near future, Mervis is pondering on having her own organization specifically focusing on bailing youngsters from dropping out of school She further dreams of launching her own organization whose primary motive is to bail out needy pupils from the said pangs.
“I’m thinking of starting an organisation that will work hand in hand with the ministry of education in order to address needs like these in Malawi. Hopefully, with enough funding I’ll be able to reduce and eradicate some of the problems we face in the education sector. “Said Mervis.
A call for help
Mervis is calling upon all well-wishers to join her initiative to ensure a better Malawi for all and sundry,
“My appeal to well-wishers is that they should have faith and trust in me. I pledge total sincerity that all the assistance they’ll offer me will be used for the intended purpose. God blesses the hand that gives, and in stretching out their hands to the needy, through me, they will be indirectly rewarded by the creator.” Said the young teacher.
Fast facts about Mervis
- Mervis is the first born in a family of four
- Minus being a tutee at Chiradzuru TTC, Mervis is also graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations (Africa University of Diplomacy Counseling and International Relations)