Three talented young refugees have won the top prizes at the Unicaf University essay competition ‘My Future’, marking an important step in building a better life for themselves and their families and serving their community.
The competition was organised in collaboration with the Jesuit Refugee Services NGO, which implements various intervention programmes for refugees living in Malawi and educates more than 5,000 children in the pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools of the Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
As of March 2018, more than 37,000 refugees have fled to Malawi from countries throughout Africa including Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nearly 34,000 refugees live in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp near Lilongwe.
The three winners of the essay competition, which ran in December 2021, were selected based on the creativity and ideas presented in their essays and their English language skills. First prize winner was Joyce Bahati who came to Malawi as a refugee from the DRC in 2014 and she has big aspirations to study Medicine. She received a monetary prize of K100,000. Second winner, Pacifique Imara Simbi, who has lost both parents to the war in the DRC, came to Malawi in 2018 and would like to pursue a business degree. His prize was K75,000 in cash. Zawadi Ombeni, the third winner, left the DRC in 2016 and has consistently been the number one student throughout secondary school. She wants to be a lawyer or social worker to have a positive impact on her community. She received a prize of K50,000 in cash.
Associate Professor Dr. Steve Sharra represented the Unicaf University Vice Chancellor at the awards ceremony organised at the camp and commended the school’s students and teaching staff for their repeated successes in national school competitions. Dr Sharra said: ‘There are many beautiful stories from the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, which show the power of the human spirit. They show that, when given the opportunity and the resources, human beings can overcome obstacles that prevent them from enjoying their rights and enhancing their talents. These stories also show that you are ready to contribute to the future of not only this country, but the world. And to prepare for that future, education is very important.’
The Deputy Head Teacher, Madam Jean Mvuthe and the School Coordinator, Madam Yamiko Kawale contributed the opening and closing remarks at the awards ceremony.