The Starfish Program
Access to education is a key pillar of the Hampton-Piggs Peak Partnership and the Starfish Program is one of its core programs. Through the Starfish Program, we pay the school fees of students in Piggs Peaks, which helps relieve the financial and emotional burden on families and provides help, hope and opportunity.
An old man was walking on the beach after a storm and came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.
The man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. “The sun is up, and the tide is going out; if I don’t throw these starfish back into the ocean, they will die,” he said.
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”
What the Fees Support
Because of the poverty in Swaziland, many families are not able to afford to send their children to school. The HPPP helps by covering the school tuition fees, and continues to grow the number of Starfish scholarships each year. The tuition covers the basic admission fee as well as the cost for exams, uniforms, and textbooks.
Students attending high school are also provided a meal at lunchtime. For some students, this is the only meal they receive. One Starfish student, Bongie, who lives with her grandmother (gogo) and shared with us: “My grandmother is too old to pay for my fees as my dad abandoned us in a tiny age…I left home with hunger and got to school with an empty stomach and I have my lunch at lunch time. With the help of you my grandmother is not stressed; she worried about food.”
In 2020, the Partnership was able to support the school fees for 182 students. About half of these students received were sponsored by a Starfish Scholarship, the cost of which for the year is $360 per student.
The fees for the other half of the students were covered through fundraising initiatives and other general donations.
Why Education is Important
Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by Hampton’s John Peters Humphrey, says “Everyone has the right to an Education”.
Education is the best opportunity for youth. Without an education, children face greater barriers to finding suitable employment and are more likely to experience complications with their health. Education for youth is also one of the best tools to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A study, “What is driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Swaziland” has shown that in-school youth have low levels of sexual activity (70% are not sexually active) while the converse is true for (more than 70% are sexually active).