Alumni Success Story

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Name: Lwanga Bwalya

Country: Zambia

Pestalozzi Scholar: 2008-2010

“I was born in a small mining town on Zambia’s Copperbelt. My family moved to Livingstone in search of better opportunities after my father was laid off from his job as a security guard at the mine. My mother had recently completed an informal tailoring training course with a local NGO.

I transferred to high school in Livingstone, where I completed grades 10-12. I was invited to apply for the Pestalozzi Scholarship after competing in the national Junior, Engineers, Technicians, and Scientists (JETS) mathematics competition.

Receiving the Pestalozzi Scholarship opened up a whole new world for me. The opportunity to travel to the UK was transformative. The teachers were kind, and we had food to eat every day. These things may seem small to others, but to a young person from a world of immense scarcity, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

I also encountered a new idea of education, not as a means to an end, but as an opportunity to think freely and make discoveries. I had won maths competitions back home, but sitting down with my tutor Richard felt different. It was like real understanding, and I really enjoyed it.

The scholarship also gave me the opportunity to meet other people with similar backgrounds to mine, but from all over the world. I also had the opportunity to volunteer, learn about organic gardening, and have all sorts of experiences that I never would have had if I had stayed at home.

For me, the biggest takeaway from my Pestalozzi experience was that my relationship with education had changed. I realised that education was not just about getting a job, but about becoming a well-rounded person. It was about learning to think critically and creatively, and about making a difference in the world.

Lwanga teaching

I work in the same community where I live, giving young people the same opportunity that the Pestalozzi Scholarship gave me: an education for those who cannot afford it. I have been working with parents and teachers to help children learn to read, and we provide supplemental nutrition because I understand that, growing up in the same community, sometimes having a meal is one less thing for children to think about. They don’t have to worry about going to bed hungry anymore. We also provide a safe space for them to play and learn.

Through the Pestalozzi Development Fund grant we received, the children now have weekly access to computers and learn how to code and create content with them. This is the journey I am on because of my experience at Pestalozzi. 

We use a play-based learning model to help children in the community see education in a new way. We also have regular conversations with parents and coaches about safeguarding and child protection so that the children can feel comfortable and safe.

I grew up in an abusive home, where my sisters and I experienced both gender-based and physical violence from both of our parents. Having the opportunity to have conversations with parents and guardians who grew up under similar circumstances is very meaningful to me. It is an opportunity to co-create a much better community for the next generation.

Pestalozzi believes in educating the head, the heart and the hands and this is my hope for Play it Forward and my community. We are already working with trade schools for young people to access skills training and my hope for the future is that Play it Forward has the opportunity to build its own education and play centre for the children. The Zambian government has made good progress in tackling education inequality – school is now free from grade 1 to 12, which is such a good thing for my community. My hope for the future is that more young people get quality education and support and can take advantage of the available bursaries and scholarships

I believe education is important because it is what true empowerment looks like. Without education we perpetuate the cycle of poverty, it is the pillar I believe on which all the other sustainable development goals depend. The route to a sustainable livelihood is education. This has been true for my own story and also for the young people in my community and the rest of the world. 

Donors, I would like to thank you for your support, thank you for truly changing my story, my life. Your donation has been life-changing for a lot of young people. Your support gave me the time to develop my talent and it’s now possible for me to work and pay forward your generosity to young people in my community.”

November 2023

Education is the key to empowering young people to improve their lives and their community. By setting up a regular payment to Pestalozzi or giving a one-off gift, it means that we can continue to provide opportunities to more young people who will go on to make an impact in the world.

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