For the past ten years we have watched our bright, excited high school scholarship students graduate and drift with the reality of no jobs, no future, no hope. For three years we worked with the community to design a college scholarship program that would provide ope for some of the most focused and determined students. Tse’po, Remaketse, Ntsebo, Tse’pang and Seotla are now attending university and this is their story in their own words.
When I called students to let them know they had been awarded a college scholarship, one of the first questions they asked was whether they would have food. Food. Daily life in Qholaqhoe is centered on all the tasks involved with planting, growing, harvesting, storing, preparing food. When I explained that they would have three meals a day in the school cafeteria, they didn’t understand.
Perhaps this photograph of the QHS cafeteria will help you see their confusion. One young man when I told him he would have a room, bed, bathroom, money for clothes, shoes and books, he got silent, then began to cry and had to end the call. When I told them that Doctor Joseph, an English teacher at QHS, would accompany them for the 7-hour trip by taxi to the college, pay the cafeteria for their food and help them settle in their rooms, they were thrilled and relieved. Most of them had never been off the rural Qholaqhoe Mountain area. As Ntsebo said, "this scholarship has allowed me to see my beautiful country.”
The magnitude of the gift this scholarship represents to these students, who have grown up having little, some nothing, absolutely nothing, is something we here in the United States can’t grasp.