Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beata's Scholarship

One time in college, after a low turn out at one of my Amnesty International events and a continuous stream of news updates about the worsening genocide in Darfur (despite all of the demonstrations and letters we’d written), I was feeling down and frustrated. A friend of mine bought me ice cream and served it with some insight. He said, “Lindsay, you can’t change the world, but sometimes you can change the whole world for one person.” I had always wanted to do the Peace Corps, but that conversation solidified it for me. I wanted the experience to learn from and affect people on an individual basis, because, well, that’s the only way it’s really done.

When I got here, it became pretty clear that Beata was the person in need of a boost. If I haven’t told you about Beata yet, she’s no ordinary Namibian. She may seem like it but she has a deep compassion and desire to help others that I have rarely seen and it’s even more extraordinary considering what she’s been through.

Beata grew up in a small village in Northern Namibia, a country under apartheid formerly known as “South West Africa” and occupied by South African soldiers until she was 12. She remembers running from school to hide in the bushes as military planes flew overhead. Sometimes they would drop leaflets describing the next restriction, such as no walking after dark. Sometimes they would drive their tanks on to their homesteads, burn their crops and beat her family members. When she was in 2nd grade she was questioned by white S.A. soldiers, at gunpoint to determine if any opposition soldiers were hiding on their homestead. It blows my mind to think that while she was going through all of this, I was about 5 years old, probably sitting in my p.j.’s eating cereal and watching cartoons. But as life would have it, 20 years later our paths would cross.

I met Beata because she works for my host organization, the Ministry of Youth, as a Rural Youth Development officer. She recently graduated with a bachelor degree in agricultural management from the university in Namibia. Though government work is a pretty standard job, it’s also allows no opportunity for advancement, especially in the MoY that’s having some issues with corruption. She wanted to study further and get ahead so that she could do the work she’s really interested in which is addressing the issues of food security and sustainable agricultural development. I encouraged her to apply abroad, including in the USA.

For the sake of brevity, I will gloss over all of 2010 and the battle that these applications have been. It’s tough to apply to grad school as it is, but doing it from a rural town in Namibia is 10 times harder (and more expensive), but Beata persevered and it all paid off when she was admitted to and Agriculture masters program at Colorado State University! She is still hoping to be admitted to UC Davis and will hear in early spring, but to have and admit to any school is such a blessing!

This is where you come into the story…

Beata and I are practically working full-time searching and applying for grants, scholarship, and student loan options. She has been short-listed for the Fulbright Fellowship and has also applied for the AAUW Fellowship and a few more. We’re hoping for the best, but we can’t exclusively rely on these things. Unlike ¾ of international students who have their education funded by their wealthy families, Beata’s family members are subsistence farmers and are unable contribute to any of her expenses.

I hate to ask people for money, I really do (and Beata hates it even more which is why she doesn’t know about this), but nothing has ever meant more to me. Please help change the life of this incredible woman by making a donation to her scholarship fund.

When I was home, I met another wonderful woman, Lisa Wade, who has offered to let me fund-raise for Beata’s scholarship through her non-profit organization, Impact A Village. It is a 501(c)(3) non profit, which means all donations are tax-deductible.

When you donate through the website, be sure to make a note that this is for Beata’s scholarship in the comment field of the Paypal form.

Please forward this to anyone else you think might be willing to support.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your help.

******IMPORTANT CORRECTION*****There is no comment field on the Paypal form. If you donate online through the website, please email to indicate that you made a donation on Beata's behalf. Sorry for the confusion/hassle.

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