Meet - Joseph Chimashi

Josep is an Economist.

Success is where preparation and opportunity meet
My name is Chimashi Joseph and this is my story.
Unlike most childhood fairytales, Mine on the other hand was a nightmare. I was born in a family of 4. I, however, lost both my parents and siblings when I was about one-year-old in an imaginable circumstance. Due to the loss of my immediate family, I was raised by my single grandmother who lived in a remote area of CHINGOMBE MISSION located in Luano Valley. It was a place where faith, dreams and hope seemed impossible. My grandmother did not enroll me in any primary school because the distance from home to school was more than 20 kilometers. I instead helped her with the cultivation and other house chores. Although we faced many challenges, staying with my grandmother taught me a lot of survival skills. What I went through as a child left everyone amused in the community.
My community on the other hand never knew the importance of education. Everyone looked up to the person who planted the most crops and had the highest harvest, as their inspiration.
I was curious to know what happens in school, what made me different from those who attended school and what made school so important that one had to be there to succeed. One day while aimlessly walking in the school compound during class time, a well-dressed tall man approached me and asked why I was outside class at that awkward time. Little did I know that the tall man was actually the school Headmaster who was doing inspections.
The Headmaster introduced himself as Mr. Himaambo. He engaged me in a very educative conversation, this was the turning point in my life. Upon hearing my story, he asked me to come with my grandmother so that I could be registered as a grade one pupil. I quickly went back home and narrated everything to grandmother even though she was not for the idea of me starting school.
I eventually started school and used to cover 20km from home to school every day in order to better my life and that of my grandmother. I do not know where my energy came from to cover that distance and how I would wake up early without any alarm clock, all I know is when one is determined to achieve something, nothing can stand in their way. Life was not easy, I prayed so many times for a miracle to head my way. Some nights were darker than others; the most challenging part was trying to balance my school, chores, going to fish and hunt in order to have relish and helping my grandmother on the farm.
There were times when I wished my parents and siblings were alive, especially when I scored good grades in class. The cold season was the worst time of the year for me because my grandmother could not afford to buy warm clothes or shoes for me, my cracked feet would always bleed. Due to my dedication in school and as an altar boy in the Catholic Church, the Blue Nun Sisters, officially known as the Little Servants of Mary Immaculate Sister, were touched by my story, this led them to take me in the convent in 2006.
While there, I learnt etiquette, respect for elderly people, how to live with people who have a total different culture and how to stay God fearing. After I had passed grade 7 exams, the Parish Priest at that time, Fr. Piotr Kolcz, gave me full sponsorship from Grade 8 to 12. I went to St. Pauls Mulungushi Secondary School where I completed my Grade 12. Through the help of Brother Patrick Bushilya who was the school Headmaster at that time I settled in well and later joined the Marist band where I made a number of friends.
Boarding life was not easy either but it challenged and strengthened what was already in me. I was fortunate to have completed my grade 12 with grades beyond my wildest imagination. The Blue Nuns, Sr. Mary Annie Katiti and Sr. Pauline Bwalya were so proud of me and because of this they felt they should help me get a scholarship to study Economics abroad. The Nuns researched and got to know of the Bursaries Committee (BC) which is now known as the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB). After their inquiries, they got to know of the Algerian scholarships and were advised on how to apply and that is how I applied for the scholarship.
Unfortunately, none of the selected candidates were allowed to go to Algeria in 2013 due to circumstances beyond HELSB control. I kept on frequenting the HELSB offices in order to chance other scholarships.
I left the Convent with the hope of discovering myself, I knew it would not be easy. I did not want to pity myself instead I put myself together and started doing some piece works.
On one fruitful day, I went to HELSB to check if there were any adverts running for scholarships. Fortunately, I found the Russian and Chinese Government Scholarships running. I quickly submitted my application as I had my qualifications with me.
I was successfully selected for the Chinese Government Scholarships in 2015 to study Economics at Wuhan University in China. From being a homeless little boy with no shoes to flying in an areophane and studying in China. My grandmother had mixed emotions, on one hand she was very happy, on the other she was sad because her grandson was going far away from her.
After the Chinese Embassy hosted a farewell lunch and travel arrangements were made by HELSB, I could not believe what God did for me. I knew I had faith and hope but dreaming of going to University is one thing and having to go abroad for university education is another. Life in China was great but academically very challenging. Learning in a foreign language can make one look so dull but I knew at that point that nothing is impossible.
In July 2020, I graduated with a Bachelors degree in International Economics and Trade from Wuhan University. My dream was now a reality. I further realized that God can make a way where there seems to be no way.
My sincere advice to someone out there who may feel low in academic qualification, going through social hardships, social inefficiency and many more life challenges, do not quit, put a smile on your face, keep up with your faith.
There is nothing in nature that lives for itself, for even rivers do not drink their own water, trees do not eat their own fruits, the sun does not shine for itself and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature and above all no man is an Island, no matter how difficult the situation you find yourself in there are and always will be a person who will help you in one way or another.
For this reason, I am indeed indebted to everyone who sacrificed and provided shelter, food, clothes and love for me especially during my lowest moments. Additionally, I will forever appreciate the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB) for changing my life permanently.

It Is Possible!
Inspiring Stories - Meet Ackson