Falesi is an AGE Africa scholar that exemplifies the dedication and perseverance that all of the scholars have towards receiving and completing their education. Read Falesi’s story, in her own words, below.  

This story has been edited for content and clarity.

My name is Falesi Simenti. I am 16 years old and come from Mandanda village in Mulanje. I am in Form 3 (the equivalent of Junior year in high school)  at Chambe Secondary School. I live with both parents, and I am the third born and only girl in a family of four children. My two older brothers are both in Form 4 in secondary school, while my youngest brother is in standard 6 (middle school).

I was provided an AGE Africa scholarship in 2017 while in form 2, after my parents’ failure to pay for my school fees. My parents have struggled to pay for my school since before I started, from when I was selected to go to secondary school, because they were already struggling to pay for my brothers, one of whom is at boarding school.

I cover a total of 30 kilometers to and from school every day. It was challenging at first, as I had to walk every day. Actually, I was running most of the time to get to school on time and I was always late. After some time, I received a donation for a bicycle. I was relieved not to have to walk such a long distance and started cycling to school. Without the bicycle and scholarship, I would have dropped out of school.

I received the AGE Africa scholarship and bicycle donation in the same month. My grandmother was the happiest for me when this happened because she felt that my father wasn’t paying enough attention to me or giving me what I needed to go to school. A few months after receiving the scholarship and bicycle, my grandmother passed away but I remember her each time I cycle to school because she was my biggest supporter.

I am the only girl in my family, so means more household chores. My brothers have very little to do around the house and do not travel long distances to get to school either. In a typical day, I wake up at 4:00 am to fetch water and do the dishes before I leave for school around 5:15 am. I normally cycle to school and get to school around 7:00 am. When I leave school at 2 pm, I usually cycle with my friends Zonse and Munafu who both live in the neighboring village. I get home around 4:30 pm and start on my chores again. I can’t complain because that’s what girls my age do in my village. Otherwise, if I didn’t do my chores, I would be labeled as spoiled by the people in my village, if they didn’t see me fetch water, do the wash at the river, or help my mum around the house.

On weekends, I take part in one of the out-of-school youth clubs facilitated by the group village headman. I was chosen as a secretary! I also play netball for my village team.

My dream is to become a nurse. It takes some time, about 8+ hours, to get medical attention at the hospital due to lack of medical personnel. Also, none of my female relatives work because they all got married at a young age, so I would like to be the first to go to college.