Stella’s grandparents sold their blankets to raise money for a term’s school fees for her. Now she is a Nursing Officer in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. She has been offered an MSc place in the USA but awaits the outcome of funding applications (updated March 2023)
Stella’s parents both died while she was in primary school and her maternal grandparents took over the care of all the siblings, as happens so often in Malawi. Stella was selected to Karonga Girls’ Secondary School (KAGSS) in 2006, a boarding school. She travelled there and started Form 1 with only a fraction of the money needed for fees, as so many other children do. Stella was ‘chased’ from school to go home to fetch the rest of the fees. This is not uncommon in Malawi. Stella’s grandparents did not have any more money so they sold their blankets and, after two weeks, raised enough money for the first term at KAGSS. By term 2 the school had seen the poverty of Stella’s family and she was awarded a Mamie Martin Fund bursary, through which she was supported for the rest of her time at KAGSS (2007 – 2010).
Stella secured a place to study nursing at Kamuzu Nursing College in Lilongwe. Again, she attended without money for fees and again was ‘chased’. She was then identified by the College for a Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) bursary which provided her with money for fees and some expenses. She completed that study in 2016. Stella is now a nursing officer in the paediatric surgery and intensive care unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi.
Now married and with a son, Joseph, Stella was selected as part of a small group who spent 6 months in Norway on a professional exchange programme with Oslo University Hospital (Riks and Ullevål hospitals). She arrived there to start that new adventure in February 2020, “I will have to experience a new working environment with new skills that will be so helpful to my work back home.
About Norway, Stella said, “being in Norway it’s one of the greatest adventures. I will have to experience a lot of new things, which will help me have more advantage of even being able to fit into a lot of hospitals around the world. The weather is also one experience in Norway. People are so friendly here and they are ready to help me to achieve my objectives and goals.”
We are proud to know Stella and to have played a part in her journey from penniless orphan to professional woman. Alongside her own family commitments, Stella now helps other girls who struggle with school fees. The photo above shows her at the Riks hospital in her first week of work in Oslo in 2020.