Student Sponsorship Program

Jun 29, 2021

The Sonder Project is thrilled to share the commencement of a brand new student sponsorship program supporting vulnerable students to stay in school.

Memory is in grade 6 at Matundu Primary School in the Central Region of Malawi.  She dreams of one day owning her own land to farm and becoming an Agricultural Extension Worker so she can train other farmers.  She lives with her grandparents.  No one knows what happened to her parents.  They left years ago, and they have not been heard from since.  Memory’s grandparents struggle to provide for her and the three other relatives that live with them.  To help make ends meet and find the resources she needs to attend school, Memory used to rely on piecemeal jobs on other people’s land, earning a small sum to scrape enough together.  Not anymore.

Memory working with her grandfather in the fields.

Thom (left) with his two brothers and his mother in front of their home.

It was not much different for Thom.  Seventeen years old and in grade seven, Thom got behind in his classes because his parents did not encourage him to go to school, instead pushing him to work in other people’s fields so he could help provide.  Four years ago, his father passed away, and now he is the head of his household, supporting his mom and his 4 cousins that live with them.  His teachers remark how much his commitment to education has changed since his father passed, but he has still struggled to come up with the resources he needs to attend and thrive.

We could share similar challenges of all 50 currently sponsored students.  100% of the students’ families survive off less than $2/day, and none of the families have electricity or running water in their homes.  None of the families own a table or a bed.  Additionally, 72% of our sponsored students are female, while 36% come from female-led households, meaning there is no adult male in the picture. 

Beginning in January, we worked closely with community leaders and teachers to identify vulnerable students. Then our staff on the ground went from house to house to interview them and identify those with the greatest need based on a scoring chart adapted from the Poverty Probability Index and a variety of other factors.  A few weeks ago, we distributed the first round of supplies to this group of 50 students, and the pride and joy they expressed were palpable.

Each student received the following: school uniform, school shoes, shoe brush, shoe polish, socks, a school bag, pencils, pens, erasers, rulers, notebooks, washing soap, solar-powered flashlight, and menstrual pads (if applicable).  All students also had their school and exam fees covered, and we plan to monitor the student’s performance throughout the year.

Memory in her school uniform and carrying her school bag thanks to The Sonder Project sponsorship program.

Thom wearing his new school uniform and carrying his new school bag full of supplies.

Although all our 2021 students are sponsored, we are currently seeking support to grow this program and sponsor more students in 2022!  To help us reach more students, please consider donating today.  It only costs $225/student for a year, and supporters who contribute the cost of at least one student will receive updates on the program throughout the year. 

Students in the Sponsorship Program at Matundu School gather to have their picture taken in front of the school.

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