Hi and thanks for visiting this page! A quick word from me (Angelena) and then you can read more from Esther herself 🙂
During my time as Research Manager from African Bat Conservation I worked with Esther and trained her in the skills needed to be a bonafied bat researcher!
She is great at handling and all that side as well as fantastic and public engagement and getting people excited about bats. Sadly though she never finished high school so all these years she has been training she has felt like she is not good enough to be a research assistant. So as she wanted to go back to school to finish her diploma, I assisted her by helping to raise the funds required to do this. She also wants to encourage other women and girls to stay in school which is a big problem in Malawi, but more on that later.
We raised £4000 but as she undergoing private tutoring to do this (she has 4 kids, a job and is now doing her high school diploma) we have spent the money raised faster than originally anticipated! We had raised enough to cover her for school fees for two years plus bought her a laptop to do her work on and a tablet for reading materials plus books needed. Another reason we chose the tutoring as better option is all the stop starting due to covid… yes that one again and this way she can still come out on roost visits and surveys when needed with African Bat Conservation.
But anyways, it turned out she was not 2 years off her diploma but 3. So she is now 20 months in with approx a year to go. So we have come up with a new way to raise funds at that is to create beeswax food wraps out of chitenge material from Malawi and use the proceeds to pay for Esthers tuition during this final year!
Some words from Esther about why she has gone back to school:
My name is Esther Chikapa and I work for African Bat Conservation (ABC), as a Trainee Research Assistant in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Eight years ago I travelled from my village Zomba Tamwambo to Lilongwe as a single mum with my two children Boniface and Nathan to look for work and a new life. Unfortunately I dropped out of school when I was younger due to having children and so don’t have any qualifications. I found work as a cleaner and cook for African Bat Conservation but was determined to develop myself and learn as much as I could. African Bat Conservation supported me to learn on the job and progress in the field of conservation, education and science.
Since joining the ABC Team I have realised that women have the same potential to learn about science and I want to help other young women realise their potential. Through ABC’s outreach and engagement work which involves visiting local schools, communities and hosting workshops I want to use myself as an example to demonstrate that women can go against the odds and that they should dream big!
Here in Malawi, not many women participate in the scientific field and few outreach projects focus on scientific education in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Most girls in Malawi drop out of school, myself included. Despite the recent constitutional amendment raising the legal marriage age to 18 for both girls and boys, Malawi still has one of the highest rates of child marriages. Most girls who drop out of school do so because of early pregnancy, early marriages and poverty.
My goal now is to finish my high school diploma so that I can then go on to do a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science.
Once I get qualified I will take up a new role as the Women in Science Outreach Coordinator to promote a career in science for other women and girls in Malawi!
Thank you to all of you who have already donated and supported my journey, it means the world to me! I hope you can help us share this next fundraiser far and wide and not only help me and my education but also help the planet and reduce your single use plastic waste by buying one of the Zikomo Beeswax Food Wraps 🙂
Check out some pictures below of me with the ABC Team and we will get a video up soon I made explaining why so many young girls in Malawi drop out of school.
Lots of love and thanks,
Esther & Angelena
Pic 1. Esther after delivering a talk about science and research for young girls at a local school in Lilongwe, Malawi
Pic 2. Esther taking biometric measurements from a bat during a survey
Pic 3. Esther at the ABC stand at the Farmers Market in Lilongwe
Pic 4. Esther checking the ABC bat boxes at Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
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