Methembe Moyo on his Project, “Lift as You Rise”


Moyo working on his “Lift as You Rise” project proposal. Photo courtesy of Methembe Moyo (’22).

“The important thing for me was making sure that, as someone who grew up under similar circumstances, I can be the one to actually go ahead and start something,” Methembe Moyo (‘22) said. “Because I know what they go through, and I know how it feels like to fail sometimes and not have anyone there to offer a second chance.” 

Moyo has just been awarded a Davis Project for Peace grant, which funds selected student projects with $10,000 dollars to create and build peace anywhere in the world.  Moyo’s project, entitled “Lift  as You Rise,” centers around bridging the gap between rural and urban educational opportunities in the town of Ntabazinduna, Zimbabwe. 

The peace grant funds selected projects with $10,000 to create and build peace in an area of the world. Moyo’s “Lift as You Rise” is centered around bridging the gap between rural and urban educational opportunities in the town of Ntabazinduna, Zimbabwe. 

In Zimbabwe, students must pass a test in order to be awarded their high school diploma. A significant gap exists between the testing scores of rural and urban students, and Moyo hopes to close that gap through “Lift as you Rise.” Moyo’s project will use the $10,000 to supplement testing fees, hire tutors, and build a sustainable income so that the project can continue. 

“This project is by the community and for the community,” Moyo said. “As much as I’m spearheading it, I want it to have everyone as a stakeholder, where everybody feels like they have a stake in this and it’s actually for everybody.”

“Lift as You Rise” will begin its mission to assist students in rural Zimbabwe in June of 2021. The funds will also be used to supplement the cost of the test, as the test fees are steep. 

In order to make this project sustainable, Moyo has invested a portion of the $10,000 into raising and selling chickens in order to make a profit. This entrepreneurial aspect of the project will be continued on by volunteers in Zimbabwe even after students take their exams in November 2021.

Sarah Carlos (‘23) worked closely with Moyo on “Lift as You Rise.” She got involved this past December when Moyo talked to her about the project, and she fell in love with the initiative. Carlos has been helping with the designing and distribution of flyers for fundraising, as well as setting up online donations. She shared what this project means to her. 

“As a minority in the U.S, I had been consumed in the fight for equality without realizing that somewhere else in the world I could be considered as the privileged one,” Carlos said. “This project helped me realize that there is always one more person to help, even though your situation might not be the best.”

International philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis founded the Davis Projects for Peace to celebrate her 100th birthday in 2007 when she committed 1 million dollars to the project. Her goal was to inspire students to think of ways to contribute or create peace in their communities. 

Since Davis initiated the peace grants in 2007, Luther has undertaken eighteen different projects in eighteen different countries. In total, thirty-one Luther students have been awarded this prestigious grant to spread sustainable peace.

Executive Director of the Center for Global Learning and International Admissions Jon Lund serves as the Davis contact for Luther. Lund works with the students who write project proposals and submits them to the Davis Projects for Peace.

“There are very few projects out there like this where students, basically in a two-page narrative and a one-page budget summary, are given $10,000 to go and make a difference in the world,” Lund said. “So that, I think, is actually quite amazing, and so it is great fun every year to work with the students as they try to think through if they were given $10,000, how would they use it wisely to make a difference?”

Although Moyo admitted that there were some difficulties in organizing this project, the support from the Luther and broader Decorah community motivated him. When he was a child, Moyo was inspired by his mother’s generous support of their community and fell in love with helping people. 

Moyo was drawn to Luther because of the small-campus setting and the tight-knit community aspect. His gratitude for the opportunity to study at Luther has energized him to give back to his home community. Moyo believes that “Lift as You Rise” will help to lift students in his own community.

“Be that as it may, if they don’t succeed, at least they will have got something out of the whole experience,” Moyo said. “Perhaps it is possible to dream beyond our circumstances and know that we can try our best to make our lives better.”