Poverty to Prosperity
My name is Yamikani Chikwatu. I am 21 years old and single. I am the second born son in a family of seven children. Both of my parents are smallholder farmers who depend on farming as a source of income. Some years crop production is low and there is barely enough food to sustain our family and we sometimes starve.
I started primary school in 1999. I passed my primary school grade levels consecutively. In 2007, I sat for Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) and I was selected to Phalombe Secondary School. Instead of being happy with the news, my parents were completely worried as to how to pay for my school fees as their earnings from farming would not be enough. Not knowing what to do, we sold our only old bicycle and used the money to pay for school fees for the first term. For the second and third terms, my parents borrowed money from other people in order to pay for the fees consecutively. It became harder during my second year in school because the boarding fees were increased and we could not afford the fees. For this reason I used to travel to and from school everyday hoping that this would end the problem, but it only increased problems in that many times I used to arrive at school late and missed some morning lessons. For the second and third terms of my second year in high school, I rented a room in a house near the school hoping that this would help. But we often failed to pay the rent and the landlord was about to evict me.
One early morning when I was traveling to school I met Mrs. Chisale, a teacher at my school, and she asked why I did not board at school. I explained that I came from a poor family and that we could not afford to pay for boarding fees. After this news she explained that she would find an organization that could assist in paying school fees and boarding costs. At the end of my second year in high school I sat for my Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) in 2009 and I passed with flying colors. The following year I started my junior year in high school while I was still renting. Despite the challenges I was facing I still wanted to proceed with my education hoping that one day I would fulfill my aspiration of becoming a doctor. On another early morning I received a call from Mrs. Chisale that I should pack my bags and come live on the school campus. Upon receiving this news, I was extremely excited. Upon arriving at school that day, it took me a long time to get used to my new living environment and it felt like a dream to be living on campus. Mrs. Chisale explained that an organization called the EKARI Foundation was offering me assistance. Two years later in 2011 I sat for the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and passed again with flying colors and graduated from high school. In July 2012 I took the entrance examination for the Natural Resources College in Malawi and fortunately I was accepted for a three year diploma course in Environmental Management. It is my goal to continue my studies and receive a degree as well as a Master’s degree.
On my own, I could not have reached my goal of completing high school and continuing onto college. This was achieved through assistance from the EKARI Foundation. As the name suggests, I am indeed a “lucky person” [“Ekari” means “lucky person” in Chichewa, the native language of Malawi] as the EKARI Foundation not only provided assistance during high school, but is continuing to support me at the tertiary level. To me, I thank the Almighty Father for giving us such wonderful people who assist us, our family members, and our entire communities. I thank Mr. Elias Makina for being honest and transparent and for humbling himself in taking on such a large role with the EKARI Foundation. Indeed his job is very tiresome, but he takes time with us and is very kind to direct us in life. Allow me to thank all of the donors of the EKARI Foundation, because on our own we could not manage to pursue our studies and our dreams.