My name is Timothy Maluza Banda. I am 18 years old an I live in Chiphala village near Kamuzu road. I completed my primary education at Chigombe School. Ever since my father’s tragic passing in a road accident while traveling to Blantyre in 2016, life has been challenging for our family. I live with my single mother, and we also have my 13-year-old brother who is currently studying in standard 6 at Chigombe Primary School.

After my father’s death, our family faced financial difficulties. My mother, who was not employed at the time, started a small business selling local donuts (Mandasi) to meet our basic needs. When I successfully passed my primary school exams and was selected to start secondary school at Msalura CDSS, the lack of funds became even more pressing. My mother could only afford to pay my first-term school fees for Form One, but the fees for the second term were unavailable. Consequently, I faced the daily threat of being expelled from class.

After a few weeks, I decided to confide in one of my teachers at school, Mr. Nkhoma, who then shared my story with the rest of the staff. Thankfully, one of them stepped forward and offered to support me with school fees until I completed Form Four. In that moment, I felt a sense of relief, knowing that at least half of my problems had been resolved. However, I still had to find a way to provide for my own school supplies. I took on odd jobs to earn money and buy the necessities I needed for my education. Although it was never enough, I also used some of the earnings to help my younger brother.

Along the way, the teacher who was paying for my school fees could not manage anymore. I had to go back to square one. I had to find means of proceeding to Form Three with my funding cut abruptly.

I went back to Mr. Nkhoma and narrated the predicament. Luck was on my side, as he put it, since Youth Empowerment and Support Initiative had just started sponsoring selected students like me at our school and others. I was overjoyed and could not believe it when I was further informed that not only will YESI pay my school fees, but will also provide for other essential academic needs. Tears of joy welled up in my eyes because I knew that with this opportunity, my dream of completing my secondary education and even attending university could become a reality. This support has ignited a determination within me to work even harder to achieve my goals.

During my initial term of Form Four, I achieved remarkable success, securing the first position with an impressive aggregate of 15 points. Throughout my secondary school journey, I maintained a consistent presence among the top five students in my class. Now, as I approach my final year and prepare for the upcoming secondary school leaving examinations, I am filled with unwavering certainty that my cherished aspiration of becoming a nurse will soon be realized.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the YES Initiative for their impactful program that aims to assist young people from less privileged backgrounds in achieving their dreams. As one of the beneficiaries, I urge the team to continue reaching out to other youths who may find themselves in situations similar to mine, providing them with school fees and necessary materials to support their studies. To my fellow beneficiaries, I encourage you all to seize this opportunity for the betterment of ourselves, our future, and those who look up to us.

Timothy Maluza is one of the 24 students from five schools supported by YESI under the Janet Allan Educational Fund, a scholarship program that was established to educate brilliant young students from Salima. The fund comes with support from the Allan Family and other well-wishers in memory of their mother and friend, Janet Allan, who died at the age of 73 in February 2022.