Q:I am a university student. I entered in 2008 and I am currently in my second year.I failed a few courses in my first semester so I am now doing a mix of first- and second-year courses. I did well in my other courses, getting nothing less than a C-.
My issue now is that because of unpaid school fees, I was not allowed to sit any end-of-semester exams in December.I had paid a portion of the fees but not all of it. I applied for a student loan but was unsuccessful. I am from a rural community where I live with my mother and three brothers. Two of my brothers are in high school and the other in primary school. My mother bakes and sells to pay for all of us to go to school but it is very hard.During the holidays, I helped her so there is more to sell.
Because I was unable to do the exams, I am even further behind in my studies, as I will have to redo the courses I did last semester.I am becoming very discouraged.
I found out in November that a man from my area had offered to help with my fees and said he had a place near the university where I could stay during the school year. He also lives there sometimes. He said he would just need me to take care of a few things around the house. I have been living there since the beginning of the year. I cook and clean for this man but it is almost like slavery. He tells me when and where I can go. If he does not approve of my clothes, I have to change.I am not allowed to have any visitors and, when I get phone calls, he sometimes listens in on them.I am in a desperate situation but I know my mother does not have it to send me to school. Also, since this financial burden has been taken off her, my brothers' lives have been better. She can now afford to give them lunch money, etc.What should I do?
A: You ought to be commended for continuing your studies under difficult circumstances.Please hang in there and try your best in the exams and with additional workload.That you did not feel that it was below your dignity as a university student to help your mother bake and sell cakes is also praiseworthy.Furthermore, your concern for the welfare of your mother and siblings, even as you are suffering, is also laudable.
It is surprising you were unsuccessful in getting a student loan, based on the income of your mother and her responsibilities to your siblings.Perhaps you should reapply to the Students' Loan Bureau.You need to contact the student services of your university to determine whether it has grants for needy students.In addition, you could appeal to the university to allow you to do the exams until you can afford to pay.Get a Justice of the Peace to verify your story and ask for time.In addition, take the documents to prove your request for a student a loan has been denied.
Help at any cost?
The help you are getting from this man is not without its problems.This apparent 'Good Samaritan' is treating you like a domestic helper who has no rights.This is affecting your dignity and frustrating you. You need to have a talk with this man and come to some agreement.You need to let him know the conditions under which you accepted his help. You must never accept help at any cost.He is invading your privacy and that is not right.
In the meantime, you need to also explore the possibility of borrowing money from relatives, whether here or overseas. In addition, if you attend a church and or any civic group then you should appeal to those organisations for help.Furthermore, you need to apply for scholarships that are needs-based and see if you can get help there.
All the best in your academic pursuits.
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