I am Shelter Matitha and I am 19 years old. I come from Phalombe District in Malawi, and I am the youngest of four. Both my brothers, my sister, and my father passed away when I was a baby, so I have been raised by my mother all my life.
The death of my father brought so many challenges. My mother is not the most educated, but she managed to educate herself enough to become a primary school teacher. Because my mother’s relatives (all married and with families themselves) depend on my mother, we could barely manage to live on her salary after my father’s passing.
There was a time my mother remarried, but my stepfather only favored his children. He treated me so badly that my mother divorced him and started raising me on her own again.
I started primary school in Phalombe and later moved to Makulo primary school in Mulanje town, where my mother is a teacher now. When it was time for me to attend secondary school, I was selected to Thuchila Community Day Secondary School (CDSS). I was disappointed because I had always wanted to go to a boarding school, though I knew there was no way my mother would be able to afford boarding school fees, let alone regular secondary school fees.
While at Thuchila CDSS, I was identified by AGE Africa as a promising scholar and was immediately provided a scholarship. AGE Africa’s scholarship provided me with everything I needed for my education and this made me even work harder.
Every year, there is a chance for secondary school students to re-submit their credentials and receive a second round of school selection to see if they qualify for a different school. Come second selection, I got accepted into one of the best girls’ boarding secondary schools: Providence Girls Secondary School. My mother was not comfortable with this selection because school fees at Providence were too high for her to afford, so she suggested I continue studying at Thuchila CDSS.
To our surprise, AGE Africa transferred my scholarship to help me with school fees at Providence. I was so excited, as this was a dream come true for me. In 2016, I sat for Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) final exams and managed to pass with distinctions.
I was selected to Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), one of the most prestigious universities in the Malawi. I would not have reached this far if it wasn’t for AGE Africa scholarship and programming. Throughout all aspects of AGE Africa’s programming, we discussed many topics that had an impact on my life; there were so many things I didn’t know and wasn’t sure about that ended up learning because of AGE Africa’s support.
I learned to be confident in whatever I am doing, to know who I am, and to value the importance of education. I come from a village where most girls end up married as early as 15 years old. So, I learned to say no to friendships and relationships I didn’t want, and turned down marriage and relationship proposals. I became and continue to be a role model in my community. All of this made me work hard and here I am, in college.
I am the first person in my extended family to go to university and I am studying Computer Systems and Security at MUST. I have many ambitions. In the next 5 years, I see myself owning a company and working with the youth in my community. It is my desire to be a stakeholder in my community and participate in development activities by providing financial support and funding to the repair of schools and roads, and helping youth in their education. I would also like to provide speeches to motivate people in villages like mine to find ways to create self-sufficiency. I will encourage them to start small scale businesses and I hope to teach them business skills. I also wish to help the elderly, the needy, orphans and other vulnerable groups by giving them their basic needs. I am a girl who knows what I want and what I need to do in order to achieve my goals, so I willing to put in the effort to do so.
Donate to AGE Africa’s upcoming 10th Annual Tri for Malawi to help provide scholarships for girls like Shelter. Athletes are competing in the Nation’s Escape Triathlon to raise $75,000 to fund more scholarships for ambitious, hard-working girls who face not only financial hardship, but also share an incredible potential to make changes for themselves, their communities, and their country. Consider supporting one of our athletes or donate directly to the Tri’s fundraising campaign today!