Ruth First Scholar (2011-12)
Pearson Nkhoma is from Malawi. He graduated from the University of Malawi in 2009 with a BA in Media for Development. He led several student initiatives to combat poverty and promote AIDS awareness. In 2010-11 he worked as a social worker for Save the Children in Malawi, focusing on childhood development, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. He had earlier been involved in a range of community projects concerned with poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, human rights and reproductive health. He is also a keen practitioner of karate.
At Durham, Pearson took an MA in Social Work Studies. He was elected Taught Postgraduate Representative for the Faculty of Social Sciences and Health. He was a member of St Chad’s College, which supports the Ruth First Scholarship by providing subsidized accommodation. He wrote that he applied for the Scholarship because of “my childhood passion to inspire positive and sustainable breakthroughs in the livelihoods of people, especially those living under the trap of abject poverty”, and hopes that “this programme will enable me to be one of the key players in uplifting the lives of people, not only in my country”.
Pearson was awarded a prestigious Durham Doctoral Fellowship for a PhD project on child prostitution, building on work he did for his MA dissertation. In June 2015, Pearson, together with Dave Namusanya (that year’s RF Scholar), gave the Ruth First Scholar Seminar at St Aidan’s College. He spoke on “Activism and policy change: The case of the new marriage law in Malawi”. He was awarded his PhD in 2017 for a thesis entitled “Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi: A Participatory Approach”.
Back in Malawi, Pearson has been working as a researcher for the NGO Dignitas International, carrying out studies with sex workers and members of the gay community focusing on health and HIV.
Read an article by Pearson and Helen Charnley based on the work he did for his PhD:
“Child Protection and Social Inequality: Understanding Child Prostitution in Malawi”, Social Sciences 7, no. 10 (2018): 185.
Update March 2022: Pearson has taken up a lectureship in Community Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.