Felisiya’s Story – 87 Years Young
“If I could, I would write about the things in my heart.”
– Felisiya Naphiri
The life expectancy for women in Malawi is just 53. Felisiya Naphiri’s remarkable story has spanned 87 years, so far…
Over her long life Felisiya has seen more than her fair share of death. All of her 87 years have been spent in the rural village of Kankhumbwa in northern Malawi. As the Chief’s sister, she is fondly known as the ‘Mother of the Village’ and has given birth to 11 children of her own. Of the 11, seven have passed away from a range of causes: malaria, HIV/AIDS, pneumonia, to name a few. Her grandson Alex’s mother died in childbirth, not uncommon considering the village’s limited access to medical care.
Presently, Kankhumba village has 17 orphans, only half of which attend school. Two of them are Felisiya’s grandchildren. When the children approached school age, she sold her goats and took out a loan to pay their school fees. Felisiya has always understood the extreme importance of education and believes that education is the only way the young girls of the village will become self-reliant. Sadly, due to little access growing up, she never had the opportunity to attend school.
When buildOn students from the U.S. came to build a school in her village in February 2012, Felisiya couldn’t wait to add her fingerprint at the covenant signing, signifying her support and pledge to play her part. Because of the new school, she knows that the young women in her village will grow up to be independent, bringing honor and development to the community. She dances because the future is bright for her grandchildren.