College of Idaho student Makhosazana “Khosi” Nkambule will spend her summer locating villages with large orphan populations in her native Swaziland as part of her plan to help alleviate poverty. The sophomore’s project has received support from the market and social research firm ActivQuest and is working to secure funding from Rising Tides, a program that promotes self-sufficiency for young people leaving the foster care system.
Swaziland has been hit hard by the HIV epidemic, Nkambule says, and those left orphaned by the disease are foregoing an education to take care of their younger siblings. Women ages 14-30 have been disproportionately affected, and Nkambule aims to start up child care centers in Swazi villages so the women there can go to school and obtain entrepreneurial skills.
Nkambule is studying international political economy at the C of I. Her goal is to figure out which poverty alleviation techniques will work in a particular village. She wants each village to use any competitive advantage it has to create sustainable business models, income and markets.
“For example, the Hhohho District in northern Swaziland has fertile land, so they could grow crops,” Nkambule said. “That would allow its people to create a market to support themselves and stop importing food from South Africa. But the southern district, Shiselweni, is dry, has no fertile lands and has clean water issues, so finding a competitive advantage there will not be so easy.”
In April, Nkambule attended the Clinton Global Initiative University at Washington University in St. Louis to present her ideas. During the Saturday breakfast session, she met Sixto Cancel from Rising Tides. Cancel and Nkambule found out they had similar views on the treatment of orphans. Cancel grew up in the foster care system in Connecticut, according to the Rising Tides website. He “designed, secured funding for and implemented a pilot program called Stellar Works – a program to prepare children in foster care for post-secondary education.” Rising Tides quickly got involved after learning about Nkambule’s proposal.
Nkambule’s original pitch wasn’t selected at CGI U, a fact that she quickly accepted.
“After seeing what other students were pitching, mine needed to be revised. It needed to be more mature,” she said, adding that providing clean water needed to be tied into her project.
The College of Idaho wasn’t far from Nkambule’s mind when she was in St. Louis. She wants students to get involved and start a Commitment to Action Organization on campus, taken straight from President Bill Clinton’s mantra of “turning ideas into action.” The group would work with professors to help students develop and write business proposals for commitments to action. She wants students to come forward and present ideas, using her Swaziland project as an example.
“People are willing to fund small projects,” Nkambule said. “Students must recognize the different challenges across the world and work with communities to help them help themselves.”
The hard work continues for Nkambule in May. She will be working on this project in the name of Swazi Seed, an organization she is creating and registering with the Swazi government this summer. She’ll spend four months in Swaziland working with ActivQuest to analyze villages. Then it’s back to C of I for the fall semester.
Nkambule says she is in this for the long haul.
“It’s going to take years. Probably until I die, but it’s worth it,” she said. “Empowering females on one side, educating orphans on the other side, entrepreneurship on another; [not doing] these things contributes to poverty and if we eliminate them, we eliminate poverty.”
Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.