Media release: Inaugural scholarship winners announced

— Media release, 10 December 2016, 12:00 GMT

London, Lilongwe, Cape Town, Colombo, Melbourne

Today, 22 young people from 8 different developing countries have been awarded the inaugural Watipa scholarships. They are the first recipients of a Watipa scholarship, a new program established to support tuition and living expenses for young people living in and studying in developing countries who have the intention and desire to give back to their communities. The announcement comes 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.

“By awarding me the Watipa Sponsorship, you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school, learning” said one of the scholars, Emmanuel Duah from Ghana. “Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community.  I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.” Duah will be supported to complete his studies in empowerment and community development.

The Watipa program differs from others, in that support is given directly to young people in developing countries, at various stages in their education. Open for just 5 weeks, Watipa received 126 applications from 14 countries. “The number of applications was three time more what we were expecting clearly indicating the need for opportunities like this,” said Sakunthala Mapa, one of the founding members of Watipa. “The selection panel faced a really tough decision, as there were many worthy candidates.”

The main criteria for selection is that they are aged between 15 and 25 years old, and have the intention and passion to develop their communities. Demonstrated financial need and academic references are also taken into consideration.

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.

“I would like to congratulate everyone who applied for a scholarship – we were inspired by the dreams and motivations of all of the young people who applied,” said Dr Lucy Stackpool-Moore, the Founder and Director of Watipa. “We are enormously grateful for the generosity of everyone who donated to supporting this first round of scholarships.”

Sabitri Pathak, a young woman from Nepal, who has been awarded a scholarship to support her studies in Law, said: “I am really happy and thankful for being made a member of the Watipa family. Thank you for believing in me and my dreams. I will obviously carry the values and vision, and give my level best to promote community development.” Sabitri is one of three scholars who have received an award in memory of Claire Lee (Gaston-Parry), a young Australian mother who passed away in 2013, and whose friends and family raised more than £4,500 to fund scholarships to commemorate her life and generosity towards others. Another couple, who wish to remain anonymous, raised almost £3,000 by asking their friends and family to support the scholarships in honour of their 20th wedding anniversary.

“We are so humbled by the donations that came in from around the world, and we will grow from strength to strength in years to come. I am someone who has benefitted from scholarships in the past, and know first hand about appreciating these opportunities created by the generosity of others,” said Stackpool-Moore, who said that almost £16,000 was raised over just 2 months to launch the scholarship program.

Watipa is proud to be supporting these inspiring young people. “It’s been a special day hearing back from the scholars, who have just found out the good news. What surprised me is that many of them mentioned that they feel connected and now part of a new family. This may be because they are already feeling part of something much bigger than themselves – which is certainly how I feel as part of Watipa” said Stackpool-Moore.

Watipa has the potential to extend the impact of the scholarships beyond the individual young people to include their families. As the father of one of scholar’s commented, “our family is very excited and touched to learn this good news that relieves us and allows our daughter to continue to hope for the realization of her dreams. We have just joined the Watipa family, and it will grow to help young people in the future.” His daughter Elizabeth has been awarded a scholarship to finish secondary school in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The scholarship program will run annually, and will be open again for applications in September 2017.

Meet some of the scholars:

  • Chanju Mwase, a young woman studying nursing in Malawi, said that she felt “blessed, honored and humbled” for knowing that she was selected as a scholarship recipient amongst many qualified applicants. “I am a second year student in the nursing and midwifery program. Receiving this scholarship motivates me to continue to work hard” she said.
  • Kyendikuwa Francis, a young man in Kampala, Uganda, said: “A lot of people think that there is no help outside there, but this shows that there is help and I will always thank Watipa for this new day they have made in my life.” He has been awarded a scholarship to support his studies in hotel and institutional catering. His ambition is to work in ecotourism and create educational opportunities for other young people to help them start their own accommodation businesses to work their way out of poverty.
  • Momie Waisi, a young woman in Malawi who has been awarded a scholarship to complete her degree in communication and cultural studies, said “I am so excited and more than grateful for this scholarship award.”
  • Aldo Sanga, a young Tanzanian man who cares for orphans and will study history and political science, wrote: “Thanks so much for this golden opportunity!!! #changing world….changing community!!!!! #Education is a weapon!!! Thanks a lot!!!!”
  • Abdirahman Boru from Kenya, said he was delighted by the news and that this was a dream come true. Boru comes from a rural area of Kenya, and his parents were pastoralists who lost their herd and income in one of the recent droughts. “This is a new dawn for me to start a journey towards building a prosperous career and give back to my community” he said. He has been awarded a scholarship to support his studies in governance, leadership and elections.
  • Daniel Torach, a young man who received a scholarship today in Uganda, indicated he was so excited that he would need a few days before he could steady his hand enough to sign the acceptance form. “This is the beginning of a new life and a turning point, bringing a change to anything that has been a failure into a success” he said, as he heard he would be supported to finish his studies in electrical installation. His ambition is to work to expand access to electricity, which he has noticed is an important factor to lift his family and community out of poverty.

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Contact media@watipa.org for interview requests and further details of the inaugural Watipa scholars.