Her Excellency Joyce Banda
Last week, five area churches that all do mission work in Malawi held a joint service to welcome Her Excellency Joyce Hilda Banda to the Lone Star State. During the service, the President of this small African nation gave a stirring talk that touched on the power of education to change the lives of women and girls.
To illustrate her point, Dr. Banda brought to the podium Chrissy, her closest childhood friend. Chrissy had been the number one student in their primary school and was accepted to secondary school, but she had to drop out when her parents couldn’t afford the tuition. (Today many Malawian students terminate their schooling because, like Chrissy, they can’t afford the $50 tuition for a year of secondary school.) The President said that though she couldn’t help Chrissy then, she swore to herself that one day she would. She makes good on her promise today, by funding the secondary school and college educations of Chrissy’s children.
Later in the evening, I had the opportunity to meet Her Excellency (which is what I found out out you’re supposed to call her). It was a thrill to hand her a copy of Laugh with the Moon. In this photo, I’m with my friend Erin Mwalwanda. We’re telling the President about the pen pal program we’re setting up in conjunction with BookPeople and the Austin Independent School District. This program will allow Austin students who are reading my book to write back and forth with students in Malawi, so they can hear for themselves how life is similar and different for their peers who live half a world away.