The Watipa scholarship review committee is reading through hundreds of applications at the moment, as we shortlist for the new scholarships that we will be awarding in just a few weeks…. it is an exciting, daunting, hopeful and very busy time for Watipa.
I have just read in one of the applications that “the future will be bright.” Based on the applications we have received, I am certain that it will.
Almost every single one of the applicants describes a hope for the future that is visionary and creates opportunities for others. This is despite also describing great hardship, poverty, and personal challenges that are creating barriers for them in pursuing their own education.
One of the questions we ask applicants – and it is one that is weighted heavily in our decisions about awarding the scholarships – is “what have you done so far to develop your community?”
Some of the responses are very honest…. they say not much yet as they have been busy studying and are still in school. Others describe how they are supporting their families, for example by covering school fees for younger siblings. Some talk about visiting local schools in their villages giving talks about why young boys and girls should stay in school and dream of going to university, as role models in their communities. Others talk about starting their own youth clubs, or volunteering with local churches, to provide support and services for the elderly. Some describe volunteering with their local health clinics to assist in counselling for HIV testing and referral processes, or supporting nurses in providing maternal heath information.
All of the applicants express a great need for assistance in funding their education. Yet despite these personal resource challenges in their own lives, many of them concurrently demonstrate a great generosity of spirit and describe how they also share their time and energy for the benefit of others.
I wonder if we asked the same question to all young people under the age of 25, worldwide, including those who do not or have not faced financial barriers to continuing their education, if we would get as inspiring a result?
Thinking back to my 25 year old self, even though I have always been acutely mindful of inequality in society and determined to do something about it, I was certainly more preoccupied my own studies, learning and professional development than giving to others at that stage of my life.
Let us all be inspired by these young applicants, regardless of our own circumstances, to share our time and energy to benefit others. They show us that generosity is possible, even or especially when under pressure to focus on other priorities.