Mastercard Foundation’s Scholar’s Day of Service

Whether in Cape Town, Beirut, Accra, Pretoria, or Kampala, the spirit of giveback and the sense of responsibility to their communities is deeply rooted in the over 20,000 Mastercard Foundation Scholars worldwide.

“As Mastercard Foundation Scholars, we are given the opportunity to have an education to become competent individuals who can create impact and benefit the world. The process of becoming such individuals is highly influenced by us giving back, for by doing so we become more affiliated with the world around us, we gain experience that help us to develop skills and become more compassionate. Most importantly, giving back makes one realize that being Scholars does not only provide us an opportunity to pursue an education, but a golden opportunity to become individuals who have what it takes to benefit those around us,” says Ghina Fares, Mastercard Foundation Scholars representative at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

A vital part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the giveback component—an initiative that gives Scholars the opportunity to be useful to their communities through volunteering as well as other forms of experiential learning. Each year, Mastercard Foundation Scholars worldwide gather to celebrate Huduma Day, a day dedicated to community service.

In 2021, Scholars across various Mastercard Foundation partner institutions engaged in a plethora of activities for Huduma Day:

Ashesi University, Ghana

In Ghana, Mastercard Foundation Scholars at Ashesi University visited the Weep Not Child Orphanage located at Ahwerease Damang in the Eastern Region. The Scholars gave the orphanage a fresh look by painting their building. They also donated money, stationery, sanitizers, foodstuff, and household items such as toiletries. Additionally, Scholars organized activities like speed mentoring sessions, spelling bee competitions, football games, the marshmallow challenge, and coloring games to create lasting memories with the children.

“It was a day well spent and looking at the smiles on the children’s faces brought much happiness to the Scholar community at Ashesi University. We are thankful to Scholars who helped in various ways to make this possible and it is our hope that the items donated, and our presence here, will spur the children to greater heights,” Joyce Selby, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at Ashesi University, stated.

Makerere University, Uganda

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

Inspired by these words, for Huduma Day, Mastercard Foundation Scholars at the Makerere University shone their light on Bulumwaki village in Iganga District. After a needs assessment with community and opinion leaders, Scholars constructed a borehole to address the perennial water crisis facing the community.

“One thing I really admire about this year’s Huduma Day was the sense of Ubuntu (humanity) exhibited by the Scholar community. The borehole project is a cumulation of Scholars’ efforts on our fundraising drive and the Bulumwaki village that welcomed us with open arms. This borehole project is estimated to impact the lives of over 500 residents, and it’s enriching to see Scholars putting the ethos of the Mastercard Foundation into practice,” Ambrose Onapa, Mastercard Foundation Scholars representative at Makerere University, stated.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars at American University of Beirut playing games with the children at SOS Children’s Village.

American University of Beirut, Lebanon

For Huduma Day, Mastercard Foundation Scholars at the American University of Beirut collaborated with the SOS Children’s Village—a charitable organization that takes care of children who are deprived or at risk of lost parental care, and works to defend the rights of all children.

As it was in the spirit of Christmas, the Scholars worked with the children to decorate their classrooms and played games with them. The Scholars also designed Christmas-themed winter kits, hats, bracelets, and scarves for the children.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars and children at SOS Children’s Village decorating classrooms during Christmas

“The children were shy at first, unsure whether to reach out or not, but then came their joyful smiles and laughter as we ran around playing football, painting, dancing, and swinging. Just like the sweet Christmas melodies and season, our cheerful plays gave us a feeling of delight, which felt like flying. As we said goodbye, the children promised to teach us a new dance next time,” one of the Scholars said.

Mastercard Foundation Scholars from the University of Cape Town at Siyaphambili Children's Home

Mastercard Foundation Scholars from the University of Cape Town at Siyaphambili Children’s Home

University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars at University of Cape Town (UCT) visited Siyaphambili Children’s Home on November 13 to mark Huduma Day. Siyaphambili is home to 35 children, aged 2 to 17 years old, from different impoverished communities in Cape Town and Khayelitsha. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on families who were already living below the poverty line. Siyaphambili eases pressure on these children’s parents by providing them with a reinforced safe environment and basic needs.

To ensure COVID-19 protocols were observed, 20 Scholars visited the home. The matron of the organization gave the history of the home and the motivation to create greater impact on the community as the Scholars donated foodstuff and household items to the management of the home. They spent the day together playing games and holding a dance competition. As an effort to mitigate xenophobic attitudes at an early age in South Africa, the Scholars, all from diverse backgrounds, shared stories about their countries of origin, their languages, national heritages, and cultural beliefs.

“The most important core value of the Mastercard Foundation is giving back. As Mastercard Foundation Scholars, the spirit of giving back is instilled in us from the time we join the Program. Therefore, I am inspired by this, and I wouldn’t want it to end with me. This makes giving back an important part of me,” said Simba Kaneunyenye, the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars representative at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

The motivation to give back is highly entrenched among Mastercard Foundation Scholars. Scholars give back in different ways, including running community social ventures and the annual Huduma Day. With the Scholars Program celebrating 10 years of impact in 2022 and more partners joining the Program, we look forward to creating greater impact on the communities through giveback.