Olipa is 17 years old and lives in Tamandani in Malawi with her parents, brother and six year old niece. She is in her second year at Ludzi Secondary School where her favourite subjects are English, Biology and Geography. Olipa wants to be a nurse when she leaves school to help the people in her village to live a healthy life.
But Olipa’s brothers and sisters were not so fortunate. Her parents, Yvonne and Lyson, had seven children to look after and until 2010, they struggled to get by on Lyson’s small income from occasional building jobs. When ill health left him too unfit to work, the family was reduced to begging and most of Olipa’s brothers and sisters had to leave school to help support the family.
When Olipa’s mother joined a MicroLoan group in 2010, her life began to change. Using her training and her first loan, Yvonne decided to travel to central markets and buy cooking oil to sell for a profit locally. Her business prospered and with additional loans to help her grow and expand her coverage, Yvonne eventually saved enough to open a small tea room, providing a regular and stable income for the family.
Olipa’s older siblings have since left home, but Yvonne is now able to pay for Olipa’s secondary school fees as well as take care of the rest of the family. Olipa is incredibly grateful to her mother and says,
We hope Olipa’s mother will be able to continue to support her studies but so often the family’s other financial needs take priority. The story is the same for millions of children across sub-Saharan Africa who struggle to gain an education as their families try to survive in extreme poverty.
It’s widely recognised that education is key to ending global poverty. With half of sub-Saharan Africa’s children out of school it is clear there is much more to do. We need to help families find the means to invest in their children’s education, even when times are desperate.