Eric's Fund for Malawian Student

During my research project in Mulanje, Malawi, I worked with some young Malawians from two small villages.  This young man, Sunster Bonongwe (pronounce sunester) came to me while I was working in Makaula, and in very well-spoken English, started asking me questions about what I was doing.  It did not take long for me to recognize that Sunster had acquired more than basic knowledge from his studies.  I started to ask him some questions, and learned that he had just taken his exams and finished secondary school (what we would call high school) with honors in many of his classes.  I also learned that he had been accepted to Malawi University of Science and Technology.  To be accepted to university, students must pass rigorous exams; generally only 1 in 10 students pass and are accepted.   For the next two weeks, I interacted with Sunster.  He talks with a calm, soothing voice, and smiles whenever he senses a connection in conversation.  His parents passed on about 10 years ago, and he has since been raised by his grandmother.  Although he has 3 brothers and 4 sisters, they no longer live in his village, and he does not ever see them.  He and his grandmother have supported themselves by farming family plots and working in the surrounding tea plantation.  This part of Malawi is covered in tea trees, and Malawians are paid minimal wages as pluckers, picking the new leaves off of the top of the one-meter trees.  Sunster works a small area, earning an equivalent of $120-140 a year.  As a teacher, I have learned to recognize good students.  With Sunster, my first clue was when I was telling him about measuring carbon-monoxide (CO) from the emissions, and he immediately pronounced that this is from ‘incomplete combustion’. I suspect many of you reading this would not have been able to tell me that. Sunster is a special young man, and I am very excited for him to attend university this fall where he plans to study Disaster Risk Management.  Which brings me to this GoFundMe effort.  To attend university for one year, including room and board, it will cost Sunster $1200.  He is entering this fall with no realistic plan to pay this fee.  This opportunity to leave his small village may be lost as he has no resources to turn to, to help pay for these fees.  There is no loan program for him to participate in. There is not family equity to cash in. I finish my work in Makaula, haunted that this opportunity for this bright young man may be lost.  If he were able to attend, he would be the first in his family, and in his village to go to university. This would not only benefit him and his grandmother, but will surely benefit his community. Should this goal be met, I would arrange for funds to go directly to the university to cover his bills.  Though this does not ensure success for this young man, it would get him started in the right direction.  Would you consider helping to sponsor this young man for one year of college?

Update: We reached the initial goal to cover one-year of tuition, room and board for Sunster!!  Thank you for all that have participated so far.  I have since made a visit to the Malawi University Science and Technology (MUST) with Sunster to make arrangements for payments.  I am also working to created a scholarship fund for Sunster to be able to put aside money for the following three years of school, so that Sunster will be able to complete the four years of study for his degree program.  So I have changed the goal to $4800 to cover 4-years of schooling.  The scholarship will be contingent on Sunster maintaining good grades.  There will also be enough to cover book expenses, as well as transprotation funds so that Sunster can go visit his grandmother one a month. Sunster is also now able to open a bank account so that I can channel some funds direction to him, that will cover the board fees (for food) and books.  This is a learning experience for me, so I am figuring thing out as I go.  I will make evey effort to demonstate that the funds you give are going directly to assist Suster in his university studies.


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Eric Lipsky 
Pittsburgh, PA
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