From Malawi to Mobile

Renee Busby Faith, Spring 2015

When Kingstone Govati ’10 left home to pursue a college degree at the University of Mobile, it was especially difficult leaving his family.

He lived in the Republic of Malawi, a country in southeast Africa, thousands of miles away from the University of Mobile. The distance meant Kingstone couldn’t go home on weekends or holidays to see his father and mother and eight siblings – a close family that was not accustomed to being separated.

“When I came here to the University of Mobile, it was just like there was another family waiting for me,” said Kingstone.

“I fit right in.”

“It didn’t take me long to find my new family,” he said, adding that within the first two months at the school he “had so many friends.”

Kingstone credits evangelist Terry Veazey of Terry Veazey Ministries International in Montgomery, AL for helping him discover UMobile.

Their friendship began in the summer of 1997 when Veazey went on a mission trip to Malawi with his church’s youth minister. The Americans went to train pastors and church workers in that area of Africa.

They partnered with Kingstone’s father, Alex Govati, a local pastor in Blantyre, Malawi.

During his initial stay in Malawi, Veazey met Alex’s son, Kingstone, for the first time and was immediately struck by his “sweet spirit.”

Veazey recalled driving up to the Govatis’ small house for the first time where 13-year-old Kingstone was standing outside, smiling and greeting the two men from America.

“I was so impressed with him,” Veazey said of the teenage boy. “He was a wonderful young man.” Before leaving Malawi, Veazey appointed Kingstone’s father as the national coordinator for Terry Veazey Ministries.

Veazey frequently traveled to Malawi to do mission work with the Rev. Govati. Through the years, he became close to Kingstone.

In 2005 Veazey’s son, Luke, completed his freshman year at the University of Mobile. Veazey thought the school and Kingstone would be a good fit.

“The Lord put it in my heart to see if Kingstone might be interested in coming to the United States and attend the University of Mobile,” said Veazey. Kingstone had played soccer since he was three years old, and Veazey thought he was good enough in the sport to get a college scholarship.

Due to a shortage of universities in Malawi, Kingstone said it is difficult to get into a college.

“The University only takes 2,000 people out of 30,000 because they don’t have enough colleges,” he said.

Kingstone was not one of the few who had been accepted to the university. Instead, he went to a smaller alternative college for one year in Malawi, majoring in accounting. But his available college funds ran out and there seemed to be no other options in Malawi.

The Lord worked out all the arrangements from there, Veazey said. Upon returning to the United States, he asked University of Mobile President Mark Foley to prayerfully consider a scholarship for Kingstone.

Veazey heard back one month later from Foley and the soccer program at the university. They offered Kingstone a scholarship that covered nearly all his expenses.

Though he was nervous about moving to another country, Kingstone said he was grateful for the offer and accepted the athletic scholarship and moved to Mobile.

“God opened the door for me,” Kingstone said. Overall, he said he adjusted well to living in a different country.

But he did have problems with some things.

“For me it wasn’t very easy eating American food,” he said, adding, “My first year I got sick a lot.”

While he only played soccer for one year, Kingstone was able to remain at the school as a result of an academic scholarship.

He was involved with Campus Life, helping international students thrive at the school. He helped plan and organize events for international students and ensured their needs were met.

Kingstone is still a member of All Nations Community Church in Mobile, where he found a church home that was particularly attuned to ministering to internationals.

“I am involved in the refugee ministry at the church and help out in serving the international students and refugees,” said Kingstone.

He graduated from UMobile’s 5-year Integrated MBA Program, where he earned two degrees in five years – a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Master of Business Administration. He received the Area Award in finance during graduation ceremonies.

He is currently employed as an accountant at Altapointe Health Systems in Mobile.

Kingstone said the University of Mobile definitely prepared him for his job at Altapointe.

Kingstone said his accounting professors, Rusty Roberts, Kathy Dunning and others “cared so much for me to learn that they went beyond the classroom to help me.”

Roberts, an assistant professor, said Kingstone knew some English but it was very broken, which made it difficult for Kingstone to keep up in class.

Roberts spent time with Kingstone after class, helping him work on accounting and the English language. “He’s really good with numbers,” said Roberts. “It was just getting the concepts and how American businesses do accounting as opposed to Malawi, which did accounting under the British way.” Away from the classroom, Roberts also helped Kingstone learn how to purchase a car and work on his resume and job interview skills.

“He really wanted to work on his career,” the professor said. That wasn’t all.

“He didn’t know how to get insurance so I went with him, just so no one would take advantage of him,” said Roberts.

Roberts met Kingstone’s mother this past Christmas, when she came to Mobile for three months to spend time with her son.

When Roberts was deciding about pursuing a doctoral degree, Kingstone called his parents in Malawi and asked them to pray for Roberts.

Kingstone told Roberts that his family and people the professor didn’t even know in Malawi were praying and fasting for him over his decision about a doctoral program.

It was a humbling experience for Roberts and another reflection of Kingstone’s kindness and desire to help others.

In the future, Kingstone wants to start his own business.

“I would like to be able to do something to help non-profit organizations that cannot afford to hire their own accountants in doing their accounting services,” he said.

Kingstone said while the transition was difficult in the beginning, he had so many people who helped him make it through college.

“People made the biggest difference,” said Kingstone. “I had so many friends. Students were so awesome.” From professors to administration and staff, “everybody was like my mother or father.”

“I was a spoiled kid on campus,” Kingstone said. “I don’t think I could have ever graduated without all the help of these people.”

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Renee Busby