The girl child in Africa still faces tremendous barriers to education. Among these are challenges in access to resources, conflict/ emergency situations, cultural perceptions, norms and expectations as well as poor infrastructure. The largest barrier however remains poverty which can be crushing and dim any prospects of a bright future resulting in the poverty cycle affecting generations.
After learning of the plight of Helen Murinda, a bright young woman from St Johns Zongoro community close to the Africa University Main Campus who was on the brink of dropping out of high school due to financial limitations, the female residents of the Ben Hill Women’s Residence decided to use their funds for community building activities to pay for Helen’s tuition fees in 2019. Helen’s father had been retrenched at the time and Helen was also coping with painful leg wounds that required constant care and treatment which due to inconsistent visits to the hospital, allowed the wound to fester, impeding her ability to walk and causing her great agony.
A delegation of the Ben Hill Residence women including Sr. Murapa of the Bishop Alfred L. Norris Health Center visited the Murinda family to offer support and medical treatment. One year on, the initiative has grown to include the generous support of the university’s alumni and broader university community .
On the 16th of November 2020, a team of 11 including the Dean of Students Mr. George Miti, Sister in Charge Mrs. Tsitsi Murapa, SRC Vice President Mr. Danjuma Barde and initiative leader Ms. Nyarai Mungure, a third year student in the Department of Education, visited the Murinda Family in a show of continued support and dedication.
Tuition fees for Helen (Form 3) and her younger sister Hazel (Grade 4) were raised through fundraising efforts, with groceries for the family also being donated. Nyarai Mungure who is also one of the founding members of the initiative to assist the Murinda family said,
“This is important for me and other students whom I work with because we understand the pain that one goes through if they fail to go to school. Some of the students involved in this initiative managed to go to school because of the well-wishers who identified them and paid for their school fees. Therefore, this is our way of giving back to the community and thanking our sponsors who gave us the opportunity to be in school from primary level right up to University as it written in the book of Acts 20:35 “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” We believe that any small donation that we might give, goes a long way in assisting those in need. We also believe in girl child empowerment thus the adoption of the two girls. Every day when I wake up I pray and hope that God will continue to enable us as a group so that we continue supporting the Murinda family. Our aim is to expand and adopt more students that are in need in our community and assist them in any other way possible so as to facilitate their learning process.”
St James Zongoro High School Headmaster Mr. Chigumira who is also an alumnus of the university from the Master of Public Policy and Governance programme said during the handover of the donation,
“We thank Africa University for their philanthropy work. This will go a long way in facilitating teaching and learning for Helen and Hazel. It is so difficult to ensure positive education outcomes when resources are in short supply which makes the work Africa University is doing all the more important.”
Although Helen still feels pain in her leg , her wounds are completely healed and her quality of life has greatly improved. The initiative remains a priority for the student body and its leadership who are now seeking funds to procure text books, stationary and examination fees for Helen who will be sitting for her Ordinary Level examinations in 2021. The university’s students and alumni’s involvement in the community continues to grow with the Ubuntu philosophy guiding their hands and hearts.