Written by David Makacha
“I have learnt to give, not because I have plenty, but because I know exactly what it means not to have.”
This famous adage sums up what I feel about giving back. When it comes to giving back, we often have excuses: I don’t have anything worthy giving, I have little for myself, I am the one who is supposed to be receiving and the list goes on. The truth is one does not have to be super rich to give back. Giving is a result of compassion, passion and commitment from the heart.
Giving back to the community is a core value of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars. It is what distinguishes the Scholars from the rest. We all dream about how we are going to give back and we have been taught to give back. Turning our giveback ideas into reality can be a challenge at times. Obstacles range from funding to lack of support. Sometimes it’s just hard to start something from scratch. It is for this reason that I am sharing my give back experience.
When I came back to Zimbabwe, my hope was to make an immediate impact as early as possible. My community faces several challenges; access to education and poverty which has been worsened by climate change. However, I have learned that whatever give back idea one may have, chances are high that there is someone somewhere with a similar mind or at least something closely related to that idea. The task is to identify the like-minded people for partnerships. That’s exactly what I did.
Among the many challenges being faced by my community, I had prioritized access to education. To my advantage, some youths at my church had also identified a similar challenge. At the end, we had many things in common. First, we all wanted to help disadvantaged kids to go school and to make informed career choices. Second, we were all from the same church domination, United Methodist Church (UMC). Third, the majority were all former students of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). So we teamed up and formed an NUST UMC Alumni Association. Each member pays a membership fee of at least US$10 every academic term. Zimbabwe’s high school calendar has three terms. Members can still pay less or more, depending on what they can afford. The funds raised through membership fee goes towards payment of schools fees and stationery at a local school called Emsizini, a rural school that is being built by the United Methodist Church.
With about thirteen members, the association managed to raise money that was enough to pay tuition fees and stationery for two pupils (a boy and a girl) who are academically talented but economically disadvantaged. The objective is that the association will continue to pay tuition fees until the pupils complete their high school. In addition, the association also offers career guidance and mentorship to the pupils at the school. We hope this number will increase as we recruit more members in the near future.
Like any other start up, there are always challenges at the beginning. We had to set the ball rolling, operating while in the process of writing the constitution. We did not have a bank account, instead we had a mobile wallet called Ecocash, the equivalent of Mpesa in Kenya because it was convenient to open, but it later turned to be a disadvantage as international friends who wanted to contribute to our cause could not do so. But what is encouraging is that an idea that was put forward in June 2015, was already showing results by August 2015. We are not backtracking. We currently do virtual meetings, via the mobile application WhatsApp.
(On left) MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Michigan State University alumni, David Makacha congratulates a beneficiary of NUST UMC Alumni scholarship at Emsizini High School. (On right) Reverend Jenifer Gondwe Chaplin of Emsizini High School hands over stationery donated by NUST UMC Alumni Members to one of the girls who also received full payment for her school fees from the same group.
Despite most of the members being recent graduates who are not employed, we are so far proud that we were able to send two souls back to school. As mentioned at the beginning, my biggest lesson is that you don’t have to be super rich to give back, but it’s about commitment and passion. No help is too small or too minor. At the end, it is those so called small things that matter in life. At first we thought two kids was such a small number, but we realized that just making one person literate makes a huge difference in the world.
It is my hope that by sharing my story, I will learn from others and someone will also learn from our experiences as well.
My Parting quote:
“Many of us have lived during at least some period of tough times in our lives, whether this relates to financial turbulence from the economy, tragedies involving death, and other circumstances that give us a great amount of pain. Everywhere we turn there are people who have much less than us, and will always need some help. Don’t you remember when things were rough for you? We have to be able to give back. What is something that you have been through that changed your life forever, that you can help prevent someone else from going through? Give to people in tough spots like you once were. Just because you can’t give someone everything that you may think they need, or everything that they say they need, many times just giving your best is more than sufficient enough. You never know, you may be just what someone needs to make it any farther in life.” R. Johnson (SearchQuotes.com).
David Makacha is a 2015 MasterCard Foundation graduate from Michigan State University (M.A. Public Relations). He can be contacted through email firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @dmakacha and Facebook: David Makacha.