Guest Post: My Story by Maxwell Kalukangu

My names are Maxwell Kalukangu, aged 30 years old and I live in Zambia. I would like to share my story. This story is meant to inspire those students/kids who are keen and ambitious to succeed yet they are faced with financial constraints, lack of reasonable opportunities, lack of mentorship, not adequate coaching etc. On the other hand, my story would also encourage and lift the spirits for those who take time to give and support the less privileged in our society.

I was born on Jan 23, 1988, second in a family of 6 (2 boys, 4 girls ). I was raised in Chingola, Copperbelt province of Zambia—my father worked for Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines and later for Konkola Copper Mines in Chingola and retired in March 2005. My mother was a housewife. Life was not easy when we were raised because my father did not earn enough money from the Mines to support his family and other dependants who lived with us. 

I did not attend nursery school due to financial problems, so I went straight into grade 1 in 1996 at Kasompe Basic School in Chingola. I was a high performer in class even though I came from a poor family.  My experience at Chingola High School was hard as it was a mix of the poor, the average and the well to do students. I used to walk a distance of approximately 18 kilometres per day to go to school.

I started my 10th grade at Sacred Heart Convent School in Chingola in 2004. I was one of the less privileged students at Convent school, but I earned a lot of respect because of the way I presented myself and competed stiffly with geniuses who came from well do families. The experience was hard because of the environment, cultural, and diversity, but I remained focused and worked very very hard! We sat for grade 12 final exams in 2006 and I passed with very good grades. I came out 3 third in my class and the whole school. 

I had very good grade 12 results, good enough to gain admission to a university. This was a beginning of a very exciting and extremely challenging journey!! 

When I was still a student at Convent in my 12th grade in 2006, I met Wendy Bourgon in Chingola. Wendy was part of the group that visited Zambia from Canada, on a mission to help Zambians with medication etc. I connected with Wendy and we stayed in contact after she returned to Canada. 

With my good grades, I was eligible to apply for university in 2007 for the 2008 intake. My desire and passion was to do medicine. I chose medicine because there was a serious shortage of doctors in Zambia and I wanted to serve the people in order to save lives. 

Wendy provided a lot of emotional and financial support during the period I was applying to university. A lot of things started changing in my life when I met Wendy as she was very supportive and literally started providing a lot of financial support. 

I was admitted to the University of Zambia in 2008 and went into the school of Natural Sciences. My first year in uni was very tough as I was not on full government sponsorship and I did not have my own accommodation. Wendy provided money for accommodation, traveling, books, tuition, maintenance etc. It was very expensive for her but she sacrificed a lot and looked after me like her own son. 

In 2009, I made it to my second year in the school of medicine and continued doing the natural sciences. I did not accrue enough points in my second year to proceed in the faculty of medicine so I left the school of medicine. I was very disappointed and I was lost for a minute but the school gave me a number of options and I had to think and choose very carefully about the next move. I made up my mind and joined the School of Mines, so I started pursuing geology. 

During my time with the School of Mines, I continued working very hard and connected with people from industry who were keen to support my dreams. I met Alexander Shaw from industry. Alexander also supported me from time to time with finances and other forms of assistance. 

I spent a total of 5 years at the University of Zambia and graduated in December 2013 with a Bachelors degree in Mineral Sciences. 

In January 2014, I was employed by First Quantum Minerals, Zambia’s largest Copper Mine and second largest producer of Copper in Africa. I was employed as a Mine Geologist and I have been an integral part of the creation and development of a geology team at a start up world class Copper Mine building systems from the ground up! I have worked for First Quantum for approximately 4 years now and I’m one of the senior local employees. 

I have overcome many challenges en route to reaching my goals, not because I am special and intelligent, but through people that God spoke to. I am who I am today because of Wendy Bourgon (Canada) and Alexander Shaw (London)—God touched the hearts of these people who went out of their way to support me even though I am not related to them. God will never leave you alone. He is always there with you and makes a way where there’s no way. There’s always light at the end of a tunnel. 

My prayer is that may God use me to to be the example and to help others who are in need. 

Happy new year and God bless you all.

With love,