A Midnight Phone Call from My Brother Byron Jeys Mawingo in Malawi!
"I don't have the money for second term school fees*," says my brother.
His voice cuts in and out over the phone as I struggle to hear him.
He sounds desperate. My heart aches when I hear the worry in my brother's usually cheerful voice.
"I NEED to find a way to get these school costs paid," says Mawingo. "If I have help with the school fees,* I can manage the other things."
That's when we lost our connection.
My brother is so far away and so isolated on that mountaintop in northern Malawi, Africa. I am at a loss for what to do, but I know I want to help him. He is an amazing man and has changed so many people's lives. Now he needs help. I want to get the school fees for these 12 students.
So this is my heartfelt, humble Christmas wish: help me help my brother! I am asking YOU to find it in your heart to make a donation.
Please send $1, $10 or $20 or whatever you can spare to help these kids stay in school; be the Santa Claus that helps change their lives by letting them continue to go to school.
Thank you for reading this. Please share this page and this note with your associates, church or school groups or others who may want to take this on as a community project.
Thanks you so much for anything you can do. I wish each of YOU, all the best in this joyous Christmas season!
Virginia J. Pulver
*Second term fees (about $750) are due on January 3rd and additional fees (about $650) are due on April 3rd
Some Background on Malawi and My Brother's Life There!
My brother, Byron Jeys Mawingo as the locals call him, is mentoring twelve students (most of them orphans or the children of single parents). Since settling in Malawi in 1985, he has quietly helped hundreds of young Malawian youth complete their schooling and move on to college or university.
In the past he has rarely had problems managing the expenses for them. His Social Security funds and money from the farm have always been enough. My brother has never actively solicited help.
But now, I am asking for help on his behalf.
There are 12 students who need help with their school fees and they need it RIGHT NOW*. These students have nearly completed their courses but will be forced to drop out without the necessary funds. Only 2% of the youth in Malawi are even enrolled in secondary schools so these students are already blessed, but they can't continue without the requisite fees and a few supplies. They are an investment in the future for all those people who cannot attend school.
Like everywhere in the world, times are hard. Life in rural Malawi is always about survival. It is a world apart from how we live here in the USA. People still starve to death, Aides/HIV takes its toll, floods and droughts regularly destroy lives. It is hard for people in the USA to even imagine what life is like there. (To read more about life in rural Malawi you can see my Malawi Journal and CALEB Library Project notes: www.pulverpages.com)
These days, travel in Malawi is almost impossible; the cost of fuel is $12 a gallon; buses no longer run, so people walk. In towns, electricity is available only about 1/3rd of the time. Water is turned on for only short periods of time. Bathing and laundry water is hard to obtain. The hospitals have no medicine, and there is no fuel for ambulances and there are no lights in operating rooms. The political situation is frightening.
At the isolated farm, things used to be better. Mawingo has tightened his belt even more. These days there is NO electricity because they need a battery and a regulator ($300) to use their solar electricity system. The power won't come on until the student's fees are paid. My brother Mawingo's glasses were destroyed awhile back - he needs glasses ($60) but he is going without because that money is going toward the students.
The people in the community are just getting by, living frugally and moving forward with tree farming, in hopes of getting money to send the students to school this term. Tree farming has been a long term project and the trees are now ready to harvest. There will be income from it later this year when they begin lumbering and producing boards.
But Mawingo's main concern right now is on those 12 young people who need to be in school this term.
A Brief Profile of Byron Jeys Mawingo, Tribal Leader of Mawingamara
Byron L. Jeys is originally from Le Mars, Iowa. He moved to Malawi in the early 1980s to set up a United Nations funded, national program of vocational rehabilitation. Later he helped launch a private boys secondary school. In 1990, he started a thousand-acre coffee-farm, on an isolated 5,000 foot plateau in northern Malawi overlooking Lake Malawi. Soon other people settled around him, they constructed a mill, built roads and homes, started a school and planted thousands of tree seedlings. Before long the village of Mawingamara was born! Byron Jeys became the tribal leader: Group Village Headman (GVH) Mawingo Jeys.
Over 85% of Malawi's population lives in isolated, rural areas. Currently, over 90% of the population receives a primary school education, but only 2% of secondary age group children are actually enrolled at government secondary schools. The number of secondary schools is increasing, but many of these have neither the necessary facilities nor qualified staff to do the job. They do not even have books to read or teach from. Education is necessary for the youth to learn how to navigate in the increasingly technical world they live in.
That is Mawingo's personal mission: to put these children in a position to succeed, by providing them with an education.
Prior to coming to Malawi, Mawingo had a rich and varied life that includes serving as an Iowa National Guard (Ranger); earning the rank of Eagle Scout; graduating from Westmar College and earning an MA; travelling in the USA, Europe and Africa, serving in the Peace Corps; teaching in secondary school. He played football and bassoon and is active as a Christian Scientist. Mawingo has made Malawi his permanent home since the mid-1980s. On his rare visits to the USA, he often speaks to small groups about his amazing life.
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