As university students around the world started a new semester this month, five Camfed graduates were settling into their studies at two of Africa’s top learning institutions.
Memory Nakazwe from Zambia (left) and Rahinatu Ishawu from Ghana – both recent 12th grade graduates who were supported through school by Camfed – were chosen from a pool of more than 2,500 applicants to take up their coveted places at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in South Africa.
When Memory boarded the plane from Zambia to Johannesburg to begin her studies, it was the first time she had ever flown: “I am so excited, I can’t explain,” she said. “I just can’t believe this is happening to me…”.
Memory and Rahinatu have joined a network of almost 400 young leaders from 43 African countries at ALA – an innovative program that identifies Africa’s best and brightest young minds and cultivates their leadership skills.
Memory is determined to take full advantage of the intensive two-year academic program to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor back home in rural Zambia. “I want to be a doctor because there are so very few in my community,” she explained. “In a big hospital, you might only find one doctor.”
“I have seven siblings and need to work hard to make a difference to my family,” she said. “I am lucky to get such a rare opportunity. This still feels like a dream to me.”
Fellow student Rahinatu from Ghana was equally excited at the prospect of pursuing her dreams at the elite South African academy. “I want to be a great scientist or a doctor so that I can help others in my community,” she said. “Some people in Northern Ghana question the value of educating girls, but I have a passion for challenging the status quo.”
Rahinatu has chosen an impressive array of elective subjects: chemistry, biology and maths and plans to study hard so that she can achieve her dreams. “I spoke to my Mum yesterday,” she said. “She was so happy to hear from me. She told me to study hard and I really will to make them proud and not to disappoint anybody.”
Three Camfed graduates were also settling into their studies on the other side of Africa, at Ashesi University College – one of Ghana’s most respected educational institutions. Two young women from Zambia – Makani Mweembe and Memory Mumbi – travelled from Lusaka to Accra to join fellow Camfed graduate Saudatu Mohammed Danladi from Ghana at the Ashesi campus. “We were very scared on the plane,” they said. “We didn’t like the food on the plane but we watched lots of movies. It was very exciting.”
Makani and Memory are both enjoying studying computer studies – although Makani wants to change to business management systems to help with her future career back in Zambia. “I’d like to work in a bank and help to develop Zambia,” she said.
Both girls are also really excited to have the opportunity to meet fellow students from all around the world – with classmates from as far afield as China and the US. They are also enjoying sharing a dorm with five other students, who are helping them settle into life in Ghana.
They are also in regular contact with their families and friends back home through Facebook, thanks to the laptops they have both received as part of their scholarship package from Camfed’s partner, the MasterCard Foundation. “[Our families] are all very happy for us,” said Memory, who is ambitious for success. “When we finish our degrees, we want to do our Masters. Our hope is to come to Cambridge.”
We will be bringing you updates from our students as they continue their studies over the next few months and years.