For Chrispin Bisalom, friendly teachers and a supportive environment are the recipe for academic success. In Salima, Malawi, a lakeshore district where most boys drop out of school in pursuit of becoming wealthy fishermen, Chrispin’s story demonstrates how a local organization can transform one’s outlook on life. As we commemorate Cornerstone Ministries’ third year of existence, we wanted to give Chrispin an opportunity to tell his story:
“Thanks to the physical and moral support I received from the mentors at Cornerstone Ministries Malawi, I am about to sit for my primary school final exams. I am not only ready to face them, but my life has been transformed spiritually, and I am an agent of change in my community.”
Chrispin is a tall boy, and his height has been a burden. Ridiculed by others for seeming too old for primary school, Chrispin was on track to drop out. Though he was not actually old, he had resorted to quitting school in search of any other opportunities.
“I was tired of the scorn I was receiving from younger classmates, as I was considered to be big for my class,” recalls 12-year-old Chrispin.
His fortunes turned around in 2013, the year that Cornerstone Ministries, a ministry of UrbanPromise International, was founded by three African Bible College graduates.
“In 2013, I was in standard four, and that’s when I heard that there was a certain Christian organization that conducts after-school programs for primary school learners,” says Chrispin. “I knew that was the perfect place for me because I would receive additional lessons.”
According to Chrispin, Cornerstone’s after-school program was ideal because it provides the lessons free of charge.
“In my area, there are a lot of after-school classes offered by our teachers, but there is a fee attached which I can’t manage to pay because my mother is unemployed. In order for our family of six to eat she does manual labor when it is available.”
As with the other kids who had joined the after-school program, Chrispin was amazed because the program did not only offer academic lessons. The physical part of him was also taken care of.
“I am so excited to be a kid at Cornerstone because after our classes, we receive drinks and snacks. In addition, we are also encouraged to recite Bible verses and we are taught morals of living,” he boasted.
With this being his last year at the after-school program, Chrispin envisions more involvement with the ministry that has raised his hope.
At the moment he is not only captain of the Cornerstone Ministries’s soccer team, the Eagles, but Chrispin has also consistently maintained being position number three at Kalonga Primary school in a class of more than seventy learners.
“At the moment as I am to sit for my primary school exams, am not even sure that where I will get school fees for my secondary education. But the three years I’ve spent at Cornerstone have ignited hope inside me that everything is possible once you believe in God,” sums up Chrispin.
*Chrispin Bisalom belongs to the first cohort that Cornerstone Ministries started with in 2013. Want to support Chrispin and the other 200 students at the Cornerstone after-school program? Contacting us to learn more.
NB: The article was first published on Urban Promise International on 23 February 2016.