Alliah Noxie Maudzu,
a former Direct Connections to Africa Sponsored Student, shares his experience in a letter written to DCTA.
Pictured above: Alliah Noxie Maudzu.
Now a bank teller at Opportunity Bank of Malawi.
written by: Paul Lundu and Cecilia Mtsuko DCTA Representatives Malawi
Download and print to read later (click here)
In this issue of MY STORY… Alliah Maudzu, a former DCTA sponsored student who is now a bank teller at Opportunity International Bank of Malawi, Mangochi branch narrates his breathtaking story in this interview in which he calls himself ‘a proud product of DCTA’. Is DCTA really making a difference in the lives of these future leaders? Here is our ‘case study’! Just read on….
It’s well around 4pm and you are just knocking off from work. Are you sure you are ready for this interview?
Oh, yes I am! It’s not a surprise. Mary Ellen told me about your coming and I couldn’t wait to see you. So you are very welcome and feel free, Paul and Cecilia.
Thank you very much Alliah for this warm welcome, we really appreciate your hospitality.
To begin with please tell us your full name.
My full name is Alliah Noxie Maudzu. You are not pronouncing my name correctly. It’s not pronounced as in Aalliah the musician. The spelling is almost the same but my name is pronounced differently (laughing).
(Laughing as well) Thanks for correcting us. From now on we will try and pronounce it correctly.
Now please tell us more about yourself.
Well, like I said my name is Alliah Noxie Maudzu, and I am 29 years old. I am the lastborn in the family of six. My father hailed from this district we are in, Mangochi. But my mother was from Nkhatabay in the northern region of the country. I lost both parents a long time ago. My father was the first in 1995 and my mother followed in 1997. They died while we were still living in Nkhatabay. By that time I was still in primary school. We were then supposed to come back here. As one of the children, I had no option but to follow soot and found myself in the care of my poor old grandmother who could not provide for even my very basic needs!
I however resolved to try and continue with my education in spite of the numerous problems that I found myself in. Primary school education is free in Malawi but I was supposed to have basic needs for me to do well in class at school. For you cannot go to school on an empty stomach and in dirty clothes and expect to do well in class. I then resorted to doing piece works to make up for the basic needs of my life while I continued with my education. My loving grandmother tried her best but I understood her limits. It was so hard that my other siblings ended up quitting school. It was a truly tempting situation for there was no one we knew would pay for our school fees in secondary school, even if we tried and managed to get there. I chose to try my luck though.
After passing my Primary School Leaving Certificate Examinations, I was selected to go to Ntonda Secondary School, a junior secondary school which was still under construction. It had forms one and two only – no library, no laboratories, no enough teachers, books, etc! I had no option but to go there. To me, my grandmother and all my relatives, that was still a milestone in my academic success. But there was much more to that – school fees! ‘If life was hard while I was in primary school, what more in secondary school where they do not allow you to attend classes unless you have paid your school fees in full?’ That was my fear. When my family deliberated on this issue, they sent me to my auntie who they thought was better off financially compared to my grandmother, because she was ‘working’. I was very happy to hear that. Little did I know that the war was far from over because she only managed to pay school fees for me for only one term and then she lost her temporary job! This disturbed me a lot.
Oh sorry, that was really very painful! How did you survive it then?
It was not easy. Not at all! My aunt tried her best to remain faithful to her commitment of making sure that I was in school. She did everything possible to see to it that my school fees was being taken care of. But her best was not good enough. Her resources were very limited. Soon I found myself in the situation of partly fending for myself again. I had to go out in search of piece works when I was not in school and sometimes when I was supposed to be in school just to get school fees and other basic needs for myself and sometimes the family because my jobless auntie alone could not support the family which now included me, an extra burden!. This affected my performance in class a great deal. Nevertheless this continued for the whole of form one and form two. My worry however was if this continued for another year, I would not manage to go on with my education because in senior classes of secondary school – forms three and four, it would not be possible for me to support myself while going to school. There is usually too much class work to do in these classes so much so that with my level of intelligence I would not manage to attend classes and try to support myself at the same time. I feared I would stop going to school after passing my examinations for form two. I however tried my level best to do well in class because I did not want to fail the form two examinations. I passed.
After passing the examinations, I did not start form three right away because there was no form three at the school and because of my financial situation, I could not manage to go to another school. So that meant no school for that year!
I tried to turn this experience into a positive one. I thought this would give me more time to prepare well financially for forms three and four. I was wrong! By the time this painful period of no school was over I was still financially unprepared to support myself as I was at the beginning of the year! Again I found myself in the same situation of trying to support myself while going to school. During all the period that I was on break, I only managed to get enough money to pay for only the first term in form three and nothing for the following terms. I had some basic needs for the first part of the first term but there were five more terms until I sat for form four examinations. I hopelessly started form three and just hoped heaven will open a door somewhere because I knew if no one helped me out, this time around, I would definitely fail. I knew I was going to quit, but I just didn’t like to quit without first giving it a try! It is at this extremely opportune time that I met my rescuer, DCTA!
Oh, at least I can now breathe a sigh of relief! Your story is so touching! Please continue.
What happened next? How did the DCTA reps come to know you?
The school authorities knew about my situation. They just couldn’t do anything to help me out. So when they received a message from DCTA reps that the nonprofit was willing to pay school fees for needy but hard working students like me, they quickly informed me and a few others about it. We were interviewed and it was two of us from this school who qualified for it. I was very happy to hear that. It was a great relief for me and my aunt. We celebrated it a lot.
Wow! I can even see that your face is shining as you are telling us that! What did this news mean to you and your family?
It meant everything! It meant no more piece works to get school fees. It meant no more worries about not attending classes because of lack of school fees. It meant no more heartaches for my aged auntie, and the list goes on and on. But more importantly, it meant I was not going to quit school! It was as if I was dreaming!
I understand you! Maybe you were day dreaming (laughing).
Well, let’s just assume this was a dream. We all know that not all dreams come true. Would you say this particular dream really came true?
Oh yes! It did come true! And it came true in a way that was far beyond my expectation!
What do you mean by ‘far beyond your expectation’?
Up until that time in my life, all I knew about such kind of programs was, if you were really lucky, the organizations offering such programs would pay your school fees and sometimes very late but then that’s all! Nothing more. But for me, and my friend Patrick, who was also on the program, it was very different. In addition to paying for our school fees on time, our connections also provided us with everything that we needed for our education. I had suddenly found a new loving and caring family in the name of my connection Kathryn Phillips and the founder of the nonprofit organization, Mary Ellen Carter. It was a family that was always there for me. It was not just a relief to my school fees problem. It was more. The letter writing arrangement made me feel connected to my helpers. I could tell them what I need, share with them what I am going through and get encouraging words from them. I received numerous gifts from them. And I also got the assurance that if I worked hard and go to college, I would be sure of the sponsorship there as well. No other organization I knew did this to students like me. I felt very special and unique. It went beyond what I dreamed about. My life changed far beyond my imagination.
Now, did this have any impact on your performance?
Very much! It contributed very positively to my performance first because I was no longer supposed to miss classes and go for piece works in order to get school fees and other school necessities. The encouragement, assistance and assurance of continued assistance if I went to college made me work even harder. I did my very best. And I don’t think I need to mention to you that it paid.
Sure, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Otherwise we wouldn’t have met you here.
Now tell us how you found yourself in college?
After passing my form four examinations, I was selected to go to Malawi College of Accountancy. That was in 2009. It is one of the expensive tertiary education institutions in Malawi but the nonprofit kept its promise and paid for my fees from day one to graduation day – a period of three years! They faithfully continued to provide for my every need, examination fees, school fees, boarding fees…. I mean EVERYTHING!
I saw this as a once in a lifetime opportunity so it inspired me to work extra
hard there and in 2011, I graduated with a Diploma in Accountancy! That which was beyond my imagination became a reality. That which initially belonged to my wish list could now be checked as ‘done’! It took a lot of faith to believe that I had made it. It was a reality though! It was true that I had made it! I became a holder of a Diploma in Accountancy— a qualification that could help me get a good and well-paying job! This was definitely one of the happiest moments in my life courtesy of the loving and caring non-profit organization, DCTA. I owe it to DCTA! I am a proud product of DCTA!
So where has all this taken you so far?
(Laughing). It’s obvious, isn’t it? Opportunity Bank of Malawi!
Tell us, what does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me. It is not easy to work in a bank. First because it is hard to get relevant qualifications and secondly because it is not easy to win the trust of the bank authorities. By the way, I need to mention that I did not just finish college and get the job just like that. It was Mary Ellen again who helped me in many ways to get the job here. She did not stop at making sure that I got the qualification that I went to college for. She went beyond that to making sure that the qualification is being put into use. In fact I had to wait for a year before getting the job. But it was not that hard because she gave me the necessary encouragement and support until I got the job here.
And back to your question, this means a lot to me. I am now self-reliant. I can support my relatives, especially children of my siblings who dropped out of school in the face of all the challenges in our school going days. I am now by far much better than them and as someone who got here through the assistance of other people, I have committed myself to doing everything possible to make sure that the education of these children is supported. DCTA has not just helped me alone to realize my dream. The nonprofit organization is also helping many more through me. DCTA has made a tremendous contribution to my family.
I can see you are a truly proud product of DCTA.
Now, what is your advice to the many students who are currently on DCTA program?
They should work hard and stay focused. They should know what they want in life and work very hard to attain it. I knew I was good in mathematics and I worked very hard in that field, and now here I am, a bank teller— for now that is. This is where I have started but I may be getting promotions along the way.
They should also bear in mind that those who are giving them assistance are not doing that because they have too much money. It is because of love and great passion for the needy students that they are doing this. They should therefore avoid repeating classes or indulging themselves in non-school related activities that can affect their education negatively. They should therefore embrace the opportunity and make good use of it now so that they can finish in time and give way to other needy students. They should also make good choice of friends both at school and at home. I know this too matters!
Also they should avoid squandering money from their connections. The money and/or any assistance they are given isn’t meant to be misused; it is meant to help them as needy students to realize their dreams easily.
And also they shouldn’t view the letter writing program as a burden to them. Instead they should cherish it as a way of communicating with their connection. I loved this part of the program and my connection liked me a lot for that.
Do you have any advice to DCTA?
Yes. But before I say anything on that, there is something that is closer to my lips than an advice.
And what is this thing that is closer to your lips than an advice to DCTA?
A word of thanks!
We will certainly give you time for that before the end of the interview. But for now we want you to give us any advice. Where do you want us to improve? We know that, as someone who has been there and done that, you have something to contribute to the smooth running of our programs and how they are done. Do you understand that?
Yes I do. Well I will try and answer the question the way you want it answered. Sure I have something to contribute but I should also mention that the one who designed how this non-profit should be run did a very good job! It gives little room for further adjustments. Much of the system is very ok, as far as I am concerned that is.
Now to your question. Like I told you, I was at a secondary school which had a lot of problems. No library, no laboratories, inadequate classrooms, etc. It is hard for a student to do well at such a school. So I suggest that if possible, connections should be considering sending the students they are sponsoring in these substandard schools to better ones. I think you are the ones who should be responsible for telling them which schools are good and which ones are not so good. That is all I can say on this and I hope you understand what I mean.
(Nodding) Yes we do and thank you very much for opening up on that. We will try and communicate that.
Now do you have anything you want to say in conclusion?
The SMALL nonprofit is doing WONDERS here in Malawi! It is doing GREAT work! DCTA has taught me to fish and I can decide the catch! The help I got in those years will count for the rest of my life. The foundation DCTA laid for me is a very strong one. I am now able to support myself and those in my family and also contributing to the development of my country, all because of the support I got from the nonprofit. By the way, I do not want to stop here with my education. I want to use the experience I am gaining now to further my education-self sponsored that is. But all that will be building on the foundation that DCTA helped me lay!
I have learned to be a free giver myself because the nonprofit has taught me to give. It is giving that has seen me through my former situation. I hope someday I will be part of DCTA or any other organization of similar interests and be privileged to contribute positively to the needy.
And to you Paul and Cecilia, I cannot thank you enough for coming. I really wanted to do something that would tell everyone that DCTA is really benefiting us here for I am proudly one of the beneficiaries! I hope my story will be read by all who are connected to this great work and encourage them to do more to help countless needy students in the country realize their dreams.
I can’t finish my concluding remarks without mentioning my connection Kathyrn Phillips and the founder of the nonprofit organization, Mary Ellen Carter. They are my second family. I want them to know that they did not give me that support and encouragement in vain. It has made a tremendous difference in me!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all that you have done for me. May God bless you richly.
Thank you very much Alliah for allowing us to take all this time with you. We really appreciate that.
You are very welcome.
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