What a Difference an Egg Makes…

Fourteen-year-old Margaret came to the Ancient Path office recently with her mother to apply for a secondary school scholarship.

Margaret had recently achieved her Primary School Leaving Certificate, passing her exams with high marks. This means that Margaret was assigned to a government school – which is an honor – but, unfortunately, her mother could not afford the $27 per term school fees or even the $5 for the required uniform. Since Margaret is such a diligent student, and has been part of our Wednesday/Saturday Ancient Path Kids program for years, it was a given that we would grant her a work scholarship.

Together, we read through the contract that we have all students and guardians sign, outlining expectations, such as daily school attendance, participation in twice-weekly tutoring at Ancient Path and work scholarship assignments. The contract reads:  “There are a limited number of secondary scholarships available and many children in need; therefore, we must ensure that children who receive these scholarships are making the most of their opportunities. In the case of poor academic performance, attendance and/or effort, or if this contract is violated in any way, the student will be placed on probation for one term. If there is no improvement during the probationary period, the student’s scholarship will be revoked.”

Margaret and her mom listened intently, with serious expressions, nodding in agreement. They both knew how precious this opportunity is and the fact that many good students around the country will never see the inside of a secondary school, simply because they cannot afford it. No matter how intelligent a child is, no matter how hard a child works work, his/her education will end at 8th grade if he/she cannot afford the school fees.

We told Margaret we would pay her fees, pay for her uniform and pay for a pair of school shoes. We watched her eyes grow wider with disbelief as we handed her the needed math instruments and scientific calculator, copy books and pens. But when we told her that, as a scholarship student, she would be given a boiled egg every morning so that she would not go to school hungry, her dignified and quiet mother clapped her hands and hid her face in her chitenze. When she could talk, she told us that this makes her so happy because she has nothing to feed her children in the morning, so they go to school hungry – a painful thing for a mother to see.

We have 21 scholarship students enrolled in secondary school for the 2017-2018 school year. Every morning a volunteer buys firewood and boils eggs for the students. Five days a week the students stop on their way to school to eat their egg. The egg provides the children with more than just protein needed for their still-developing brains and more than just something to still their morning hunger pangs – it gives them hope.

Compared to the costs of covering the school fees, the costs of providing uniforms, shoes, school supplies, and textbooks, as well as the costs of covering the salaries of the tutoring teachers, the egg program is not an expensive program. One egg costs 80 kwacha or 11 cents. An armload of firewood costs 300 kwacha or 40 cents. So, for $2.73 – less than $14 a week –  we can send 21 students to their high school classrooms with something in their stomachs and hope in their hearts.

For more information contact us at info@ancientpath.com