LifeNets Scholarship — Beverly Chonde in Malawi

We are so happy to publish this report about Beverly Chonde's education sponsored by LifeNets. She was named after my wife Beverly and we are happy to see her success after knowing her and her family for two decades. Beverly is from and lives in LIlongwe, Malawi,

“Mphatso, what’s the matter?” I asked.

“Nothing Bev, why do you ask?” she responded while busy on her phone.

“Well, I know you very well you look tensed.” I said.

Beverly Chonde Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, Third Year

“So you mean you haven’t seen the email that our lecturer Kamlongera just sent, I have every reason to be tensed.” She answered.

“What email?” I asked surprised.

“Kamlongera just sent an email that the assignment which was supposed to be submitted on Friday, should be submitted by tomorrow instead.” She said.

“Eeeh!” I exclaimed, “how are we going to finish the assignment which we haven’t even researched by tomorrow?” I wondered while standing without knowing what to do next.

“It’s either you go say that to Kamlongera if you have any guts or else get started” she answered while busy looking for information from the internet.

I knew exactly what was going to happen if we couldn’t finish the assignment on time. It meant having our assignment being rejected by the lecturer(Kamlongera) as he is the kind of person who listens not to any excuses, and it also meant registering a fail on our results sheet for that semester. So far that was march and we were half way down the semester. A semester is six months at my school, and we had only done three months of it. My only obsession at that time was to write my assignments and to submit them to the lectures before set deadlines. The looming Corona virus pandemic was probably the least of my problems. After all, at the time, Malawi and Lesotho were the only two African countries that had so far registered no cases of the disease. Never at that time did I ever imagine how much the pandemic would affect me academically for the rest of the year 2020, and perhaps even more.

Alas!!! I found myself home due to the president’s declaration issued on the 22nd March, 2020 that all schools should close. After 3 weeks of being home, my school introduced E-learning in which we are supposed to study online using our phones and computers. It is very hard studying online; its expenses are high. I have to buy daily data bundles which are very expensive in the country. At this time, there is power shortage in the country which makes it difficult for me to charge my phone and computer so I can participate in the google classroom. I don't even have access to the library at this particular time and that makes it difficult for me to find information for my assignments which require a number of sources. During this time, we are given materials to study on and make a reflection out of it without lecturing, and mostly I just write a reflection paper for the sake of submission and making a grade out of it while not learning something that can be applicable to my career. As it is well-known, Mass communication is much more practical than theoretical, so I am in a situation of not doing practical work as courses like radio and TV practicum were dismissed because they required a radio and TV station happens to be on the campus. In June, I started my final exams and the school required me to finish up with my balances for me to be an eligible candidate for the exam. With this pandemic, my parents being both teachers have to engage themselves in taking loans to finish up with my balances.

So if you ask me how the Corona virus pandemic has affected me, my answer to that question is: "very much."

Beverly Chonde