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Meet Jessie Zulu: An Orant Sponsored Student
“For me, education means independence and adventure,” says Jessie Zulu.
She, along with two of Orant’s other sponsored students, took their Malawi National Exams in January. All three passed. Each now qualifies for university.
Jessie is a leader and a poet. “My favorite parts of school were learning new things and interacting with new people from different backgrounds,” she says. As her school’s sports prefect, Jessie learned to navigate group dynamics. “Leadership got simpler when the whole crew learned to work together, when we started working as a team.”
Her leadership skills are evident not only in her sports experience but also in her life philosophies. Jessie sees challenges as incentives. “I live in an urban community, but there are still traces of male chauvinism,” she explains. “Though negative, it’s a kind of motivation to work even harder. To go even higher.”
Malawi’s culture is traditionally patriarchal. Men are respected and granted opportunities. Too often, women and girls are not. Jessie felt this both socially and intimately. She discloses, “My step-father imposed violence on my mother, sister, and I.” Additionally, her family struggled to afford her tuition. Her mother, a primary school teacher, had a low salary. Her step-father chose to only pay the fees for his biological daughter.
Because of the unfathomable barriers women and girls like Jessie face, Orant invests specifically in the education of girls. As Jessie herself says, “education means independence.” Independence gives women freedom. And women, as much as men, deserve to chart the courses of their own lives.
Now, after passing her National Exams, Jessie has more opportunities to fulfill her potential. “I hope to go to college, get a job, and start up a business. I also would like to publish my poems,” she says.
Orant’s support doesn’t stop after students graduate. “We offer advice on what paths might be best for students,” says Lonjezo Chauya, Orant’s Education Program Manager. “We provide options that will lead them to a happy and independent life. And we encourage them to apply for university.”
Students like Jessie inspire us at Orant. Without a doubt, they will become agents of change. With the empowerment of education, they will have the tools and confidence to contribute to stability in Malawi.
If you’re interested in sponsoring Jessie in her continued studies, or a student like her for secondary school or university, send an email to [email protected].