Esther was first displaced within her own country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, before fleeing to Malawi, a few years later. Despite multiple challenges, Esther completed the Diploma in Liberal Studies and is now making her way through the B.S. in Leadership with Creighton University.
The first time Esther had to flee was with her parents and siblings, from North to South Kivu (Democratic Republic of Congo). There, she completed her primary and secondary studies but having lost her father, the family faced hardship and being unable to afford higher education studies, she got married at the age of 18.
The second time Esther was forced to flee was as a widow and a mother of three young children, this time seeking asylum in Malawi. The first challenge she faced after arriving in Dzaleka Refugee Camp was the language barrier, as she spoke French and Swahili rather than English or Chichewa, so everyday interactions with international and local organisations and members of the host community were a struggle. Over eighteen months, while working to support her family, Esther enrolled in an English language programme with the Jesuit Refugee Service. She eventually heard about the JWL in Diploma in Liberal Studies and applied but was not successful. Unshaken, she continued to develop her English language skills and completed other shorter programmes of study to be better prepared for the Diploma. “What motivated me the most,” she says, “is that I could see people who were completing [the] Diploma, creating their own projects that were helpful for the community. People were transformed and could behave and communicate differently from others.” Her second application was successful, and she graduated from the programme (accredited by Regis University, USA) in 2021, with a concentration in Social Work. This would not be the end of her educational journey.
Having given careful thought to the challenges faced by her community and the world, Esther was moved to apply for the B.S. in Leadership, offered by Creighton University (USA), to identify solutions and bring about change. “In addition to that,” she said, “for me to take care of my community, I have to invest in leadership development. I want to learn how to effectively connect people so that I can get to know how to help them.” She’s enjoying the courses and feels that they have opened her mind and helped her better understand “the great role of a leader in bringing change in today’s world.”
A teacher and Section Head, Esther applies what she has learned as she coaches and supervises 27 teachers. She also works for a small community-based organisation serving vulnerable groups such as children, single and teen mothers, providing materials and training which enable them to become self-reliant.
Esther is among four JWL/Creighton University students recently inducted into the Creighton University Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society.