In mid October I had the privilege of participating in a United Methodist national youth leadership conference in Malawi. I was there to teach on entrepreneurship as one component of the program.
While there, one of the young men I met was named Memory. He was a part of the hosting church and was helping out with the sound system. I was amazed by his “MacGyver” nature, he was always fixing things or making the technology work with minimal resources. He's in the photo with me above.
Over the duration of the event I was able to get to know Memory and his older brother Ezekiel and to hear a bit of their story. Both were active members of the host church and had experienced the sadness and loss of their father.
Memory has a dream, to go to University and complete a business degree. In a larger sense, I learned from numerous conversations, higher education is a dream for nearly every young person I met; Malawians see schooling as a path out of the extreme poverty they live under. In fact, I heard two primary requests while I was there, “please help me continue my education” and “can you help me get an internet phone?” The interesting thing was, these were not random youth I was meeting on the street, these were young people who have been called into leadership by their local churches. What was sad to learn is a student can attend University for about $50 per month and that’s still an amount that is out of reach.
A jarring observation for me was a lack of older adults in our interactions. Due to AIDS and other illnesses, 67% of the country is under twenty-four years old. This reality brings a lot of promise, but also a lot of challenges. If education is out of reach for so many, the future is not promising.
As a ONE member I support the bi-partisan Education for All Act and I encourage you to support it too. This act will be one more link in the chain to help young people like Memory have access to schools. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out a way to support students like Memory and the other young leaders in Malawi who are hoping and dreaming for a pathway to attend school. For more information and to join me in using our voices to seek change check the ONE.org site: Education for All
So I remember Memory today. And pray and act to see he is able to complete his business degree.