In the summer of 2007, Michelle Bradley’s life was deeply impacted when she traveled to Malawi, Africa for the first time. During this trip she met Father Joseph EKARI Makina. Joseph impressed upon Michelle his passion for education as a primary tool to break the cycle of extreme poverty among his fellow Malawians. During her time in Malawi Michelle noted that youth yearned for an education, but their families were simply not able to afford it.
In May 2009 Joseph was in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for some time. Michelle traveled back to Malawi that summer. She met Joseph’s family and asked if there was anything she could do. Joseph’s family asked that Michelle carry on Joseph’s vision of an education for all of his fellow Malawians. Joseph and Michelle often dreamed of a time when they could start their own nonprofit organization. In September 2009 Joseph’s brother, Elias Makina, and Michelle co-founded EKARI Foundation in Joseph’s name in order to carry on his vision that every person has the right to an education as well as in hopes of his recovery. EKARI is Joseph’s traditional African name. Unfortunately Joseph died in February 2014. We will never forget him and strive everyday to make his vision a reality.
Elias and Michelle quit their careers in construction management and architecture, respectively, to go back to school to learn how to run EKARI Foundation. Elias is EKARI’s current In-Country Director. Michelle is the Executive Director.
Father Joseph EKARI Makina’s story in his own words…
‘The background to all this [providing students with an education] is my own life. I was born into a poor village family. My grandparents failed to pay my father’s school fees when he was selected to go to high school in 1940. His classmate succeeded and became a pilot. It pained my father. The failure to send my father to school caused our entire family to suffer. My father was poor and unemployed. My sister and I had to stay home for three years without going to primary school due to lack of school fees. Later, my parents encouraged us to go to school when we were advanced in age. They did not want us to repeat their experience. I do not know what I would be today without my parents and an education. I know what poverty is. I have lived it in all spheres. Above all, education has been a powerful weapon that transformed my life. Therefore, I will use this same weapon [education] to transform other’s lives.’