School Location: Livingstonia, Malawi
Length of bus ride from Catherine’s home to school: 8 hours
Number of bus rides from home to school: 4 (She travels between home and school only during school breaks – about 4 times a year.)
Birthday: April 14, 1999
Favorite school subject: Math
Favorite song: Love by Mercy Chinwo
Favorite book: I Do Not Come by Chance
Helps at home by: Farming and fetching water
What education means to Catherine: “Education is a tool to help me know more things and gain more knowledge and skills.”
Family History: Catherine comes from a large family. She is the seventh born in a family of nine children. Catherine’s younger siblings are in primary school – primary school is free in Malawi. Her older siblings are not able to attend school due to lack of finances. Catherine’s father is deceased. Her mother is a subsistence farmer who did not receive an education and cannot afford to pay for school fees or even basic necessities for her children. Catherine assists her mother with household chores by farming and fetching water for the family when she’s home from school. Catherine was the only member of her family to be selected to a private high school and wishes to continue with her higher education. EKARI supported Catherine through high school and, with your help, will support her higher education!
Life in Phalombe: Catherine is from an extremely poor rural area in the Phalombe District of Malawi. The HIV and AIDS epidemic has damaged the social fabric of entire communities, leaving many children in Malawi without parents. Many families live in small houses made of mud or bricks, with grass thatch or tin roofs, no windows or doors, no electricity or plumbing, and most sleep on the floor without a mat or blanket. A typical diet consists of maize (corn) and sometimes beans and root vegetables. Most family members eat only one meal a day. Families are largely dependent on agriculture for their daily food and income (if they are lucky). Primary education in Malawi is free, but secondary and higher education is not. Therefore, most families are not able to support their children’s education past primary school (8th grade). Those families who can find a way to pay school fees generally can only afford to send their children to community day high schools – schools without electricity or boarding facilities. Most children attending community day high schools walk hours to and from school each day or rent a room at a nearby home, becoming servants of the home – leaving no time for homework. At EKARI, we do everything possible so that the students we support can attend boarding schools allowing them to focus on their education.