19. October 2015

Grateful for a chance to learn

Theresi Sabanda can report excellent results as one of the many Zimbabwean students being funded by Norway’s Sabona organisation. He recently took a BSc in psychology and aims to do a master’s degree in 2016.

Text: Kavli Trust and Sabona
Photo: Sabona

Sabona provides school fees, food and health checks for poor children and young people in the southern African nation, and is receiving support from the Kavli Trust for a second year.

Help from the organisation allows recipients to complete their school and university education, and thereby lift themselves out of poverty.

All 17 of the students already attending university are doing very well and passed their exams in 2014, according to a report from Sabona.

The charity will support 24 university undergraduates from the autumn of 2015 in subjects such as languages, business, tourism, medicine, administration and economics.

Sabanda has talked to Sabona about his studies, life and plans for the future, as have two other students receiving its support – Sharon Chatambira and Ishmael Ndlovu.

Theresi Sabanda: psychology


A young man full of warmth and joy, Sabanda is enrolled at Midlands State University and studying hard to get the best possible grades.

Asked about his plans once he has passed his BSc, he explains that his ambition is to start work on a master’s degree in public health or social psychology.

His long-term goal, after his education is complete, is to secure a job advising on social problems. He feels this is the best way he can give something back to his people because he has been so lucky as to go to school.

Sabanda is the youngest of 10 children and lives with his 86-year-old mother. Asked whether he is married, he gives a broad grin, starts to laugh, and says “Yes, in a way”.

Five other people live under the same roof with him, and he is the main provider. He teaches part-time in order to make ends meet.

The best part of being at university, Sabanda says, is the sense of independence. Four-five years ago, he could not conceive going to school or having a chance of a better life for himself and his family.

Education is the key to escaping a life without hope, and he is full of gratitude for all the help he has received and for the opportunity to achieve a brighter future.

Sharon Chatambira: informatics


A warm and smiling girl, Chatambira has always been fascinated by computers and how they work. Becoming a programmer represented her great dream. She says now with a smile that she already knows a great deal and cannot wait to go on learning.

In her view, the best thing about attending university is “the knowledge that a future lies before me”. She is convinced that a good job awaits when her education has been completed.

Chatambira lives in Bulawayo with her aunt, a retired policewoman. Her father became ill and died in 2002, and her mother disappeared seven years ago.

The aunt heard about Sabona through a colleague and, after meeting one of its employees, her niece submitted an application and was accepted.

Asked if she wants to add anything, Chatambira’s face lights up and she expresses eternal gratitude for the opportunity to go to school.

She says that no words could express the depths of her happiness, and that this opportunity has changed her view of the future for ever.

Ishmael Ndlovu: archaeology


Ndlovu has a lot to say about his life at university, where he is in the third year of a four-year course on archaeology, cultural heritage and museum science.

His greatest dream earlier was to become doctor, but his desire to work in forensic medicine has grown over the years. The route to that subject goes via archaeology.

Ndlovu finds it interesting to learn about Zimbabwe’s culture and history, and says he began studying forensic medicine because it has so many applications in the police, hospitals and museums.

He comes from a big family, and he and his siblings lived with relatives in various places for several years. His parents remained in Hwange, where his father produces and sells carvings.

Making ends meet has been difficult for the family, but the pressure has eased after Ndlovu joined Sabona’s mentoring programme.

Like most of the students interviewed, he feels that school has changed his life and made him a better person. He takes great pride in being the first in his family to get an education.

The future looks very bright, and the expression on his face makes it clear that his remarks are heartfelt. He wants to thank the sponsors who have given him his life – that is how important the mentoring programme is to him.

Read more about Sabona (Norwegian only)