Farlington is one of over 300 students supported by Determined to Develop’s Youth Sponsorship Program, and has just returned from his first journey outside of Malawi- a five week visit to the United States with Founder and Director of D2D, Matt Maroon. Farlington is 18 years old and has one older brother, aged 21. He supports London soccer team Chelsea FC, and is also a big Jackie Chan fan.
Having lost both his parents at just four years old, Farlington stayed with his Grandmother for the next decade. Upon completion of Primary School at the age of 14, he passed entry examinations on his first attempt and was accepted to continue his studies as a boarder at Rumphi Secondary School. Unfortunately, only primary school education is free in Malawi and like so many other Malawian children, Farlington did not have the necessary fees to proceed further. Instead, despite passing the acceptance tests and the school’s offer awaiting him, he found himself having to repeat the last year of primary school.
His Grandmother then sent him away to live with an Aunt, in the hope that she might find a way to raise the necessary funds for Farlington to progress his education. However, his Aunt’s husband was struggling with substance abuse and he instead found himself plunged into a turbulent new home, in an unfamiliar and daunting new area, with limited prospects and very little hope of change in his opportunity for an education.
But happily an upturn in fortunes was at hand. Farlington’s Aunt happened to live in Hara, the closest trading center to D2D’s base at Maji Zuwa. Farlington came to D2D and it was agreed his school fees would be covered and he would become a residential student, so he had a safe and supportive environment to call home.
D2D staff recently caught up with Farlington, on his return from the USA.
How long have you been supported by Determined to Develop?
Thanks to sponsorship from D2D I started boarding at Rumphi Secondary School back in 2011, living at Maji Zuwa during the school holidays.
How are you doing at school?
I have just successfully finished Form 4 and I am now waiting to go on to university and study either Agriculture or Teaching.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to work hard and earn money to buy my own land, and build my own house.
I understand that you are just back from the United States! How was your time there?
I had an amazing time in America. I love travelling and seeing new things. I enjoyed the food the most! My favourite thing was chicken wings, and pork chops. I gained 14 pounds which I think is a record!
What was the best thing that you did when you were in the US?
There were two things that stand out the most for me. The first one was visiting the John Hancock Building in Chicago. We had drinks on the 96th floor and it was incredible. It was my first time seeing people below look like ants. The second thing was going to see an American Football match in Cleveland, at night. I didn’t understand the rules at first but it was my first time in a stadium and I won’t forget it.
What was the strangest thing that you saw in the US?
I saw a huge shop that was as big as the biggest supermarket we have here in Malawi, but it was selling things only for animals- dogs and cats and things. I was told that there are special doctors just for these animals too.
What one thing would you bring back from the US?
What one thing would you take from Malawi to the US?
Nsima! (the Malawian national dish)
What would you change in Malawi to be more like the US?
Education. I would like to bring more resources to Malawi- for example projectors. It is difficult here in Malawi because the teacher has to write everything on the blackboard, and everyone has to copy everything down. I would also bring time management, so that meetings start when they are scheduled to start!
What would you change in the US to be more like Malawi?
In America I saw people eating separately whereas in Malawi, we always all come together to eat our meals.
What else did you do in America?
I spoke about my own story and about Human Rights at the University of Dayton, which was a really great experience. I had to give a ten minute presentation to about 500 people and when I was introduced I was very nervous! But once I was speaking I was fine, and I got a big round of applause at the end. Maybe one day I can go back there.
What did you learn while you were in America?
I learnt that people are so friendly. I learnt how Americans feel about people, and that they do think about people who are struggling. I learnt that people do care.
How can you use what you learnt back in Malawi?
I would be happy to do a job like a teacher because it is the best job to tell many people about my experiences. If I do agriculture then it is still all about being a specialist and teaching others. I want to be trained as a professional, and then to share the knowledge that I have.
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)