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Young Zimbabwean Gold Panner Strikes Paydirt - Harvard Scholarship

One of 35 students granted scholarships by the US Embassy this year, Hope Ndhlovu, son of an informal-sector trader, said panning for gold to pay for food, school fees and textbooks almost ruined his life

Hope Ndhlovu, a Bulawayo student who fed his family and met school fees by panning gold and walked 14 kilometers to get to school each day, has won a full scholarship to Harvard University from United States Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Ndhlovu, son of an informal sector trader, said he never expected to complete his studies but scored 20 points in four advanced level subjects at Mpopoma High School in Bulawayo.

One of 35 students granted such scholarships by the Embassy under its Student Achievers Program for the 2010-2011 school year, Ndhlovu said panning gold almost ruined his life.

He said he will return home to help the poor after completing his US studies. “I think there is a lot that needs to be done in Zimbabwe where I hope to be involved in tackling some of the challenges faced by poor people and other citizens,” Ndhlovu said.

Zimbabwe National Students Union President Tafadzwa Mugwadi said students who win such scholarships are extremely fortunate as thousands of their peers are dropping out of Zimbabwean universities and colleges because they cannot afford tuition fees.