The odds are stacked against students in rural Malawi.
In what’s considered one of the poorest countries in the world, lack of transportation remains one of the biggest barriers to education.
Almost half of the children in Malawi don’t finish primary school.¹
The hours spent walking long distances to class often present too high an opportunity cost to families – many of whom live on less than $2 per day.²
Girls, in particular, face greater challenges in the quest for education. In addition to rising early to complete chores before leaving for school, girls also face the risk of sexual harassment and assault on their walks.
The challenges don’t end here. Read on to hear from Malawian students about the obstacles they overcome without a bicycle as well as their hopes, dreams and more.
Trinitas, who aspires to be a nurse, must leave her home at 5 a.m. to travel the 14 km to school.
“People on the way discourage me, saying, ‘Who do you think you are? Your friends have failed.’ To them, I say, ‘I’ll put you to shame one day. When I become someone, you will stop saying these things.” – Trinitas, 17
Christopher often arrives late to school and misses class. At the end of the day, he gets home late after walking 15 km.
“If I am running to school, it takes 4-5 hrs. Walking takes 6 hrs.” – Christopher, 18
Victoria wants to be a doctor. She’s inspired by the female doctors at the hospital. At home, Victoria shares chores with her grandmother, with whom she lives.
“Sometimes I get to school and others have already begun learning. They start at 6 a.m. and I cannot arrive in that time. This problem is all me. I am the one who is accountable.” – Victoria, 17
Rose Andrea, whose commute to school takes 6 hours, loves many subjects at school, including math, English, geography, chemistry and history.
“At 4 a.m., I fetch water, cook, shower, then set off walking. When I miss class, my friends try to explain what was taught, but it’s not the same.” – Rose Andrea, 17
John aspires to be a primary school teacher. “ Someone taught me, so I want to teach others.”
“Our parents are cotton and maize farmers, not students. In the morning, I worry before I set off if I am going to make it on time. If I am late, will the Head Teacher turn me back home? I tell myself, this is the choice I made so I can help others.” – John, 19
Yusef, who loves math and physics, also plays football in his spare time.
“I aspire to become a pilot! Every time I see an aircraft flying, I feel it in my heart. I am amazed how the airplanes travel a very long distance in a short period of time. Being in the sky and looking down seems so nice – like a bird.” – Yusef, 17
For these Malawian students, education is the key to a safer, healthier and brighter future. And with the help of a bicycle, they will have the opportunity to ride toward their highest potential.