From deep poverty to new chair of FOCHTA

By Austin Kambalame

I am the last born in a family of eight children. Our mother died when I was six and my father left home soon afterwards. I was then effectively an orphan being raised by my older siblings. As I was growing up I endured the worst poverty and the harsh realities of being an orphan in the Malawian villages. My situation made me realize the importance of education at a very young age. Thus at that young age I had built resilience within myself and my love for school that was unmatched in our village. At that young age in primary school, I could hear my siblings discussing among themselves that one day I will walk through the corridors of the University of Malawi. Hearing that motivated me to work even harder.

When I wrote my Primary School Leaving Certificate of Examinations in 2005, I was selected to Saint Patrick’s Catholic School, an all-boys National Secondary School. We were all happy about it until someone inquired about their fee structure and came to the realisation that we couldn’t afford to pay it. We looked for bursaries from government offices and organizations to no avail because fees for studying in this kind of national school are higher than community day schools.

Then we heard about FOCHTA and I applied and was offered a bursary. I finished my secondary studies and later got selected to study a Bachelor of Irrigation Engineering degree at the University of Malawi from which I graduated in 2014. A friend in need is a friend indeed. That has been my relationship with FOCHTA. The provision of school necessities like transport money, stationary, fees and a laptop had been a game changer during my college days.

Currently, I am working as Senior Irrigation Agronomist stationed at Mulanje District Council. I got married in 2020 and my beautiful wife and I have a three months old bouncing baby boy. On top of working for FOCHTA some years back, I now serve in the Fochta Board of Trustees as its chairman together with a number of fellow beneficiary alumni. Serving in the Board is exciting because we are able to correct some of the things which were not done right during the time we were students and we currently act as role models to the current and future crop of students.


Posted on: Wednesday, 9 June 2021 at: 11:15 pm
Filed under: Malawi news