On International Human Rights Day last Saturday (10th December), we had the great pleasure in announcing the winners of the inaugural Watipa scholarships. Twenty-two young people from 8 different developing countries received some very good news that their tuition fees would be covered for the remainder of their courses. Fourteen young people found out that they had received a highly commended encouragement award – a one off stipend to support their living expenses for the year and an encouragement to re-apply for a scholarship in September 2017 when the program opens again.
The announcement came as part of the global celebration of International Human Rights day, which marks the adoption of a universal set of human rights by the United Nations on this day in 1948. The Watipa scholarships are a contribution towards realizing the right to education.
Two in three of these first awards have been given to young women, and the ages of the scholars ranges between 15 years and 24 years old. The scholars are living and studying in a variety of countries: Malawi, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Nepal, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are studying a range of disciplines, spanning agriculture and fisheries to catering to nursing to veterinary medicine to education and more. The scholars share the one common factor of having a vision and demonstrated experience in community service.
Watipa is proud to be supporting these inspiring young people. The scholarships are very well deserved, and a supporting a variety of young people pursuing their dream to develop their communities in a wide range of ways. For me personally, it was very special to hear back from the inaugural scholars, who expressed their joy at hearing the good news.
I was especially touched by the humility and grace shown by those who did not receive a scholarship or award this year. In total we had 126 applications from 14 countries, far too many candidates than could be funded this year. Many of those who were unsuccessful shared their reactions at the news, even though they were disappointed. Some were grateful at having been considered, others congratulated the winners, and some recognised that there were people in greater need than themselves who would benefit from the opportunity. Many were appreciative that such a scholarship program exists and wished the program well as it develops in the future. Their generosity of spirit was selfless, in valuing and encouraging the opportunity that had been created for others – but unfortunately this time not for themselves.
It is those remarks, as well as the joy expressed by the inaugural winners, that will continue to inspire me – and us all at Watipa – as we grow this scholarship program in the future.
Congratulations to the very first Watipa scholars!