Rose Benson, 21, came to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in 2017 after fleeing conflict from her home country, DRC. Rose aspired to make meaning of her stay in the refugee camp, despite the numerous challenges and hardships faced. When she first came, she couldn’t speak English at all. Since English is the language of business and commonly used in Malawi, she enrolled in the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Beginner level with JRS’s Professional and Post-Secondary Education (PPSE) programme. She was 6-months pregnant then, and her son, Abiel, was born as soon as she completed her Beginner level training. She’d just started learning a new language and had gained a lot of mileage; a break in her studies would have derailed her progress. Despite having a newborn baby, she enrolled in the next stage of her studies. JRS Malawi operates a creche, called Furaha Wa Watoto that is aimed at providing daycare to babies whose mothers are studying or are involved in other socio-economic activities. Abiel was placed in the able hands of the creche caregivers at 4 months, and she was able to continue her studies without a break. She is completing her Advanced level in December.
She said, “I’m very proud of myself and my family. I’m able to do an interview in English; a few years back, I couldn’t even dream of this. It has been easier to communicate and interact with various agencies providing help.” She also had a few words to say about the availability of the creche service to young mother aspiring for greatness like her; “The impact has been immense. I was able to continue my studies with peace of mind, knowing that our child was in good hands. The caregivers are so professional; they look after all children as their own. The creche provides some porridge during the day, but I’m able to bring additional food. The creche is very close to the learning area, so I’m able to check on Abiel easily. When he’s throwing a tantrum, the caregivers can call for my support.”
Rose plans to enroll in one of the short professional courses offered by the PPSE Project, and subsequently, a program of Jesuit Worldwide Learning. “I applied in the recent call for applications, but the competition was stiff. I’ll try my luck again in the next call,” she said.