“The Originals”: The First Ever CLUBHOUSE Scholarship Recipients

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough.”- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Recently, I was going back and forth with my good friend and director of CLUBHOUSE in Zimbabwe, Mr. Nyasha Matavire, trying to find an important letter we had attached to an email a few years ago. While that exercise in itself was rather tedious, it resulted in us digging up some of our early communication during the formative days of the organization. Much of it had us both grinning in wistful nostalgia: the least of which was not the following letter we initially sent to the schools in Mutare back in 2012.

For some context:

I had just graduated from graduate school, was having no luck finding a job, and had spent the last couple of months listlessly laying on my stepmother’s couch. Because we had laid out the basic organizational structures and website for CLUBHOUSE while I was still in school, I found what little purpose I could in life by spending a litle time each day on the vision. Because I had no money, and was overally not feeling very optimistic about life, we figured we would get into the schools and fund two children- one from each school- for the year, and perhaps continue along that trajectory. The rest of the CLUBHOUSE team was either still in school or also without meaningful employment, so nobody challenged the idea. Thus the letter above was written, and communication was sent out.

In the depths of your delusion, a grander destiny awaits.

As supportive as ever, my mother got to work spreading the word about our fledgling organizations. Said word fell upon the ears of her colleague- a Zimbabwean woman also residing in Australia. As fate would have it, she and a few friends had collected a little money with the intention of funding a project that never materialized. She was drawn in by our idea, and she donated all the money they had collected: a hefty $400- and commanded that we spend all of it on the scholarships.

At $35 a term, we were able to pay for eleven students in August, 2012. Since then, each term, we have funded at least ten students (in addition to hosting the CLUBHOUSE Festival and several other programs.) This year, we are funding thirteen students: ten in primary school and three in high school!

The CLUBHOUSE team possesses only a marginal amount more in material resources than we did then. Oftentimes, we have no idea from where the next donation for program funding will come. We are nowhere near as big and impactful as we would want to be. Yet, term after term, year after year, we have honored our commitment to the students. The past four years have gone the way they have on the strength of the generosity of donors, heavenly blessings, and the fuel of a big dream. Had we not received that break we received  back then, I have good reason to believe that we would have gone on funding just two students a year, or maybe grown by just one or two. Such is the power of the goals we set for ourselves- for better or worse.

May you imagine how big things could be. Then dream beyond that.

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