Wesley Ngwenya
Photo courtesy of Wesley Ngwenya

Wesley Ngwenya is the recipient of MCC Manitoba’s Arthur and Kathleen Driedger scholarship, which is awarded annually to students enrolled in degree programs that align with MCC’s areas of focus, and who show a commitment to serving their community, the world and MCC Manitoba’s supporting churches. Ngwenya is Zambian and first became involved with MCC as a participant in the International Visitor Exchange Program in 1998. He now lives in Winkler, Manitoba.

Wesley Ngwenya is the recipient of the 2016 MCC Manitoba’s Arthur and Kathleen Driedger Scholarship, which is awarded annually to students enrolled in degree programs that align with MCC’s areas of focus, and who show a commitment to serving their community, the world and the church.

Originally from Zambia, Ngwenya is a Master’s of Business Administration student through Canadian Mennonite University’s collaborative program which is managed together with three other Anabaptist institutions.

There’s a very strong correlation with my experience with MCC and where I am today.”

The scholarship from MCC Manitoba is helping Ngwenya stay motivated in the last weeks of his Master’s and removing some of the financial burden that comes with higher education.

“It’s really energized my efforts of making a difference in my community and the world at large,” he said.

This commitment to making a difference was what made him a natural choice for scholarship, according to Darryl Loewen, MCC Manitoba’s executive director.

"Through his application, Wesley demonstrated an exceptional commitment to sustainable community development, local and international community service, and values aligned closely with MCC's. This made him a natural choice for the Arthur and Kathleen Driedger scholarship, named after a couple who committed many years of service to MCC, both locally and internationally, in the same spirit," he said.

I come from a country that doesn’t provide many opportunities for people. Someone can be smart, ambitious, have drive, but we come from a place where those opportunities are very small, concentrated within a small group of people."

Ngwenya is no stranger to MCC. In 1998, he took part in the International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP), during which he lived in Hesston, Kansas; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and at Camp Friedenswald in Cassopolis, Michigan.

He said the experience changed his life.

“I have tremendous respect for the MCC exchange program. I think a lot of people that participate in MCC programs, when they come back it gives people a resilient spirit and drive. It changes the way they see the world. They work on their relationships, they become a lot more well-rounded people. For me that’s what the exchange program did,” Ngwenya said.

After completing the year-long work and cultural exchange program for young adults, Ngwenya briefly returned home to Zambia, but returned shortly after to study business administration at Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas and later Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Pennsylvania.

Young people like Wesley inspire us and encourage us with their dedication and passion, so it's an honour for us to be able to recognize that." - Darryl Loewen, Executive Director

Now nearing the finish line of the MBA program, Ngwenya is living in Winkler, Manitoba. He is working towards a personal goal of leading a non-profit and helping people in Zambia and neighbouring countries find similar opportunities he was blessed with.

“There’s a very strong correlation with my experience with MCC and where I am today,” Ngwenya said. “I come from a country that doesn’t provide many opportunities for people. Someone can be smart, ambitious, have drive, but we come from a place where those opportunities are very small, concentrated within a small group of people.”

Part of Ngwenya’s course work involves independent study, which he has chosen to use for the benefit of different initiatives in Africa.

One project involves creating a guide for basic record-keeping, budgeting, and financial literacy for a farming cooperative in Malawi. He’s also working remotely with non-profits in Senegal and Zambia.

MCC scholarships are a tangible way the organization can support the next generation of change makers.

"We want to encourage and build relationships with young people - students - who show a commitment to Christian service, and we want to invest in the next generation of people who are going to work for relief, development and peace,” Loewen said.

“Young people like Wesley inspire us and encourage us with their dedication and passion, so it's an honour for us to be able to recognize that and give some encouragement in return to these students who we see as MCC's future."

For more information about MCC scholarships, visit https://mcccanada.ca/scholarships