“Why are you bothering yourself walking this far? You will not find a job after finishing school. Your friends are getting married and are better off.”
These are the words Felistus Chitukule would hear every day from men on the side of the road during her 9 km walk to Mogomero Community Day Secondary School.
Felistus, a 17-year-old who lives with her parents and four siblings in the remote Kalino village in the Zomba district of Malawi, considered dropping out.
“Each and every day, I would wake up around 4 a.m. to prepare for school. After finishing my household chores, I would start my two-hour journey to school at 5 a.m.,” Felistus says. “Despite waking up that early, I was late most of the time and would miss most of the morning lessons.”
Then she heard about World Bicycle Relief’s plan to implement its Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program in the community and give 126 bicycles to students at her school.
I felt like I was dreaming when I received a Buffalo Bicycle.
“I was skeptical throughout the whole process. I felt like I was dreaming when I received a Buffalo Bicycle,” says Felistus. “That was when I believed that God can answer prayers.”
Felistus’ trip to school now takes just 45 minutes. No more journeys in the dark, no late arrivals, no missed classes. Instead, she can fully dedicate herself to her education and even participate in study circles after school because of the time she saves getting home on her bicycle.
The bicycle has helped her family too. Felistus’ father is a subsistence farmer, growing food to feed his family and to sell when possible. On the weekends, her father loads produce on the bike and takes it to the market, which is almost 5 km away, earning extra income for their family.
Felistus, now in the final term of her form 3 year, dreams of studying to become a doctor.
“I hope this program continues at our school and other schools in the area so those that didn’t receive bicycles but are coming from far can also benefit,” Felistus says.