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Growing up in Zambia

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Listen to My Story Š Camfed 2008 First published in Great Britain in 2008 by Camfed Camfed Zambia 13 Lubwa Road Rhodes Park PO Box 51354 Lusaka Zambia Camfed International 22 Millers Yard Mill Lane Cambridge CB2 1RQ UK www.camfed.org All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electrical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written prior permission of the publishers. Design and layout by Mousetank Ltd. Photography by Jaimie Gramston and Mark Read Š Camfed. Images are illustrative in order to protect the privacy of the storytellers. Printed on recycled paper to protect the environment. This publication has been entirely funded by the UK Department for International Development


Growing up in Zambia

Listen to my story


Foreword

I feel greatly honoured to have been asked to write this foreword,

will boost the number of self-aware, confident women who are

and to speak out for girls’ and women’s education in Zambia.

able to enter the workforce, and who are critical partners in the development and transformation of the whole nation.

Women and girls play an important nurturing role in the life of individuals, families, communities and nations. However, for women

My message to those who read this book is: make use of it, and

to fulfil this role effectively, they have to be supported by a good

share its contents with others who may not be as privileged as you

system of education and training. Unfortunately, the provision of

are to hold a copy themselves. Also remember that you do not have

education for all is an expense beyond not only the budgets of

to be a genius to succeed. I am proof of that maxim. Through dint

most families, but also of most African countries. Even countries

of hard work, I became a Permanent Secretary in the Cabinet Office;

committed to the principle of education for all are often unable to

an accredited Ambassador to numerous countries; a Permanent

fulfil the obligations embedded in that principle for lack of funding.

Representative to the United Nations and simultaneously, a President of the United Nations Council for Namibia. I have founded a political

The result has been that families choose to educate boys at the

party – the Social Democratic Party – and I have stood for election as

expense of girls, a situation that compounds the problem. It will

President of Zambia, challenging the population to consider female

take a long time for Africa to become self-sufficient in this area of

leadership of their country.

endeavour. The imperative for countries like Zambia is to openly acknowledge the catalytic role that international organisations can

Nothing is impossible when a young woman determines to conquer,

play, and to support them in strategic partnerships with indigenous

one by one, all the impediments in her way. My own personal

organisations that espouse similar principles. Such an approach

experience confirms this. Ambassador Gwendoline Konie

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Nothing is impossible when a young woman determines to conquer, one by one, all the impediments in her way.

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Introduction

The people who have contributed their stories to this book have a

the villagers wrong. Harnessing the power of the wind to fill her

common belief – everyone has talents and everyone has a right to

own sails, she passed all her school exams, studied to become a

discover and use them. As the powerful stories in this book show

teacher at the University of Zambia and now travels the world as an

only too well, finding your talent, believing in yourself and pursuing

education expert.

every opportunity to achieve your best can change your life and the future for your family, community and country.

Leah tells us: “Education is the only way that we can change our destiny”. The unifying theme in these stories is that education has

Every person has great potential, and every person has a story to tell,

the power to transform lives. Or, as another writer, Mwangala, says,

if only we take the time to sit and listen. Within these pages, you

“I still believe the sky is the limit”.

can read the stories of young people who represent the future of Zambia – young people who have often faced incredible hardships

Be inspired by Leah, Mwangala and the other writers who tell their

and challenges early on in their lives. Some have lost their parents.

stories in this book. Find your talent and reach for the stars.

Others have been abused. Many have been prevented from going to school by the barriers of poverty and inequality. But many of them

All of us at Camfed very much appreciate the financial support of the

have also overcome incredible odds to achieve amazing things.

UK Department for International Development in the production of this book and accompanying materials. We would also like to thank

One writer, Leah, shares her memory of neighbours and villagers

the Ministry of Education and all the teachers and pupils across

telling her father that sending his daughter to secondary school was

rural communities of Zambia who have given so much of their time

like “investing in the wind” – because society regarded education

and experience in the book’s making. You will meet many of them

as something for boys rather than girls. But today Leah has proved

through the photographs and words that follow. Barbara Chilangwa Executive Director, Camfed Zambia Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education

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It is a pleasure for me to add my voice to the voices of these young people who send a strong message about the importance of education.

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Chapter One

Education for All

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For Camfed, ‘education for all’ means that all children, not only the academically gifted, wealthy or able-bodied, must be given the chance to complete their education in a safe environment. Our work in rural communities of Africa is underpinned and guided by the principle that education is a basic human right and all children must have access, only then can the potential that is in every child shine through societies. Ann Cotton, Founder & Executive Director, Camfed

Education is the best way to break the cycle of ill health, hunger and poverty. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson, Global Campaign for Education

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Lillian Love is an important ingredient in a child’s upbringing. I found this out the hard way... It is not always people distantly related to us who perpetrate our

until she gave in, but even then she would find things for me to do,

abuse or mistreatment. I have heard about children suffering at their

just at the last minute when I was ready to leave for school. It made

parents’ hands, or their grandparents’ hands. Love is an important

me always late, and I got in trouble when I arrived at class. Even

ingredient in a child’s upbringing.

when I did go to school, it was useless because I could do nothing. I had no books and no writing materials. I would just sit there

I found this out the hard way when I stayed with my sister. She is

watching my friends working.

older than me and she works as a teacher in Mwense. When she came home to visit the family in Samfya I was so impressed by her

In the end, I couldn’t take it any more and I wrote to my father

that I begged to go and live with her. I thought life would be fun

asking him to take me home. When he came my sister was surprised

and interesting, better than the poverty at home. My parents were

and pretended things were fine. She was ashamed and didn’t want

hesitant, but I managed to persuade them to let me go with her.

him to know what she had been doing. For me, getting home was the main thing. I learnt to appreciate what I had, and thankfully I

It wasn’t what I expected at all. She treated me badly, making me

was identified by Camfed and supported in my schooling in Samfya

work like a maid in her house. When I asked her to take me to

– something that could not have happened if my parents had had to

school she refused and got angry with me. I had to beg and plead

manage it alone.

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Jonathan I remember very well that the majority of the people were laughing at me... I was too happy to be in school to allow their mockery to affect me. I am writing this because I am a disabled person. When I was two

touch me. I was too happy to be in school to allow their mockery to

months old, I became very ill. My mother took me to the health

affect me.

centre that was closest to our home and because of the seriousness of my condition I was then transferred to Lubwe Hospital before

I did well. When I was in Grade 5 I was moved up to Grade 6

being released to go home.

because I was too advanced for the lower class. In Grade 6 the head teacher suggested that I should sit for the Grade 7 examination. I

When I was 7 years old, I asked my parents, “When am I going to

passed the exams and I was selected for Grade 8. After that I was

start my Grade 1?” They told me I could not go to school because

offered a place at Samfya High School for my senior secondary

of the way I am. “You will not do anything and the other pupils will

school education.

laugh at you.” That is what they said. I am grateful to my mother who decided to put me in school When I was 10 years old, again I asked my parents to take me to

against all the opposition she faced. Parents should not be afraid

school. My father still refused, but my mother gave in and took me

to take their children to school, no matter what the odds seem

to school so that I could start Grade 1. I remember very well that the

to be. Everyone has a talent and everyone can contribute to the

majority of the people were laughing at me. Their laughter did not

development of the country.

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Alfred Being poor is not something that can stop someone from getting educated. What is important is hard work and determination that come from deep inside oneself. I am the ninth born in a family of 13 children, nine boys and four

understand that nothing that is good comes by itself. In spite of

girls. In our family there are two pairs of twins. I am a twin, born

everything, my mother has been so encouraging. She always says,

with a girl, who died when I was very little.

“Being poor is not something that can stop someone from getting educated. What is important is hard work and determination that

Because of poverty, my mother failed to take all my brothers to

come from deep inside oneself“.

school, except my eldest sister who managed to finish. My mother used to brew and sell local beer in order to raise money.

The only person who is educated in our family is my sister. She has taken on the responsibility of taking care of the whole family. She

When I was selected to Grade 8 at Samfya High School, it was

has been my inspiration. I intend to work hard at school and become

difficult for my mother to find money for school fees. I spent

a better and responsible citizen.

the whole of the first term at home. However, I have come to

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Kingfred No one laughs when a successful person says he or she was once very poor. Both my parents died when I was three years old, and so from a

times, though, I went to school on foot and I was always late. At

young age I lived with my brother and his wife. My brother worked

that school, if one was late, one was told to make 100 bricks. This

as a driver, and you know how that is – he was often away from

was hard punishment, but I used to do it.

home for a week at a time. When he wasn’t there my sister-in-law treated me very badly. She stopped my schooling, gave me many

When I reached Grade 8 there was no money for the fees so I

chores to do and did not give me enough food.

dropped out. I missed a full year before I found support for my school fees and was able to go back, but I had to go to Grade 7.

One day I refused to wash plates and she beat me so badly that I had to be taken to hospital. I was unconscious for two days. After

When you are older than almost all your classmates, you are laughed

three weeks I was discharged from the hospital. After that I moved

at. But when you are poor, this does not bother you. It drives you

to my grandparents’ home, and although they were kind to me,

to work harder to get a good education. No one laughs when a

going to school was difficult because the school was 12km away.

successful person says he or she was once very poor.

Sometimes my grandfather would take me on his bicycle. Most

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Sharon My hope was rekindled by my education. Education taught me to be myself and gave me power over my life. Life changed overnight when my father was involved in a road accident.

When I passed to go into Grade 8, my mother had no money at all.

He lost his memory. For nineteen years he did not recognise anyone: his

She started selling the pieces of furniture my father had bought while

family, his friends and his colleagues. Life became unbearable for him

in employment. Every term she would sell one household item to raise

and for us because he did not know what was happening in his life.

money for my education. She also started a small business selling second-hand clothes, kapenta and other fish. These businesses did not

My father was retired on medical grounds. We now faced a lot of

do well because people used to get things on credit but did not pay for

challenges because my mother was a housewife with no income of

the items on time.

her own. We were living in a company house, which we were asked to leave. The company did not even give my mother enough notice for her

Through that struggle I managed to complete my secondary school

to look for a suitable place to move to. She had no option but to return

education. My hope was rekindled by my education. Education

to her home village in the Northern Province. To make matters worse,

taught me to be myself and gave me power over my life. Through

my father’s terminal benefits were minimal as he had worked only for a

my education I have learnt to be confident, independent and

few years for the company.

determined.

My mother started to perform so many difficult tasks. She had to take

I obtained good results and I was enrolled at the Copperbelt

care of my father, as well as raise the four of us single handedly. Being

Teachers’ College, although my training fees were too high for my

the oldest child, I struggled to help my mother. The main struggle was

mother to pay. My uncle helped pay for me throughout the course

schooling but I persevered and did not give up.

and I graduated with a Diploma in Education. After I completed my course I started to work and I helped my siblings to finish their

My mother turned into a very strong woman who used to cultivate a

secondary school education and college as well. Only the last born is

reasonable field of maize, though inputs such as fertilizer and seed were

still in school.

difficult to acquire. She would later sell the maize to the Food Reserve Agency. She also grew cassava, sweet potatoes, millet and other crops.

It was my prayer that we all finish school, start working and help my

These sustained our lives. I know from my own experience that parents,

mother to look after our father. Unfortunately, our beloved father died

especially mothers, really love their children and will do everything

in September 2005. As for my mother, her prayers were answered. We

possible to ensure that their children remain in school and succeed in

are all settled after a very long struggle. Life has changed completely,

life. That was my mother’s dream also. She used to struggle to raise

and things are good for all of us. Education is the only key to a

money to buy all our school requirements.

successful life.

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Chapter Two

Overcoming Challenges for Education

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As we know from long and indisputable experience, investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity and sustained economic growth. No measure is more important in advancing education and health, including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as likely to improve nutrition, or reduce infant and maternal mortality. Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General

Enabling girls to attend school is literally a matter of life and death. Education, especially for girls and women, is the best way to break the cycle of ill health, hunger and poverty. Without it we can’t achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson, Global Campaign for Education

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Mwangala I believe education, hard work, determination and self-confidence are the only way to success. It is really incredible how many turns life can take.

Fortunately, when I was in Grade 10, Camfed was introduced at my school and I was among the beneficiaries selected for the bursary

When I was young my parents were doing well, and as children

scheme. I was so excited and thanked God for the wonderful

we had nothing to worry about. My father was a senior manager

opportunity. I promised myself that I would work extra hard to

at his work and my Mum was a business lady. But my father

complete my education. I was appointed head girl when I was in

became ill, and despite an operation his health deteriorated until

Grade 11. I used this as an opportunity to encourage other girls to

his death in 2001.

study hard so that we can be better citizens.

My Mum became chief breadwinner, nurse to my father and of

From that time I have been able to go up and up. I joined Cama

course continued to be mother to the six of us. It was too much for

after leaving school and through hard work I became the National

her to manage, and before we knew it we had to leave our home in

Coordinator and got a full-time position with the Camfed national

Sesheke and move to Nangweshi where my cousin had his home.

head office for Zambia. I now support my five siblings in school and I have built my Mum a brick house which she loves.

People were kind to us but life in the village was so different, and we had to adjust – learning how to cultivate vegetables, living in

Beside work, I am studying for a diploma in social work. I still believe

a thatched house. Most importantly for me, there was no high

the sky is the limit. I will continue to study and work hard so that I

school near us and although Mum assured me I would finish school

can have a decent life.

I couldn’t see any way for it to happen and I was desperate to know what would happen. Apart from anything else, I couldn’t see how

I would like to encourage girls to put education first. Their suffering

Mum would ever afford the costs of my schooling. But my mother

today will pave the way for a bright future. My sincere wish is to see

is a resourceful lady and she found a way for me to start at Sioma

educated, young rural women who contribute to the development

High School. I don’t think she knew how she would keep me there

of their community and country. I believe education, hard work,

once I had started.

determination and self-confidence are the only way to success.

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Mildred At the times when life becomes a crossroads for young girls I did not know which road would be for me. My mother died when I was four years old and my father died when

The head teacher called me one day and advised me to return to

I was 16 years old. I am the fourth born in a family of ten. After my

school. I weaned my baby and went back to repeat Grade 11. The

mother’s death, my aunt took me to live with her in Shang’ombo

teacher mentor used to spend a lot of time counselling me. She also

District.

told me to forget what happened in the past and start a new life. I realised that what I had done was very wrong.

When I was in Grade 9, I met a boy who told me that he loved me. I started a relationship with him. I was still young and I didn’t

When I completed my Grade 12, I put myself forward to become a

know what I was doing. I had friends who had boyfriends and they

member of Cama – a network of young women linked to Camfed.

encouraged me to have one as well. Eventually I became pregnant and

After some time, I was chosen to be the chairperson of Cama

I continued with the relationship hoping that he would support me. I

for Shang’ombo District. I received a grant and started my own

continued with my education but unfortunately I didn’t do well in the

business. I used to sell shoes and my business was doing so well that

final exams because of the condition I was in.

I applied for a loan from Cama to expand it. I managed to support my auntie and grandmother. I also managed to build my aunt a

When I gave birth to my child I was unable to go back to school

house in appreciation of all she has done for me.

because there was no one to take care of my baby. Two years later I was able to go back and repeat Grade 9 and was the only girl who

When my Grade 12 results were finally out, I had passed and

managed to qualify for Grade 10 from our school. My aunt tried to

managed to get top marks. I was accepted to study at the University

raise some money to take me to school but she failed. It was then

of Zambia. I would tell myself, “Hard work Pays.” Now that I am

that Camfed came to my school and I was identified as one of the

at university, I have become a source of inspiration to young rural

beneficiaries. But instead of taking my education seriously, I continued

women in Shang’ombo District, rather than a source of derision.

to be playful. I want to share my story with other people, especially school-going When I was in Grade 11, I became pregnant again by a different

girls and I have a message for you: I urge you to put more effort

boy. I became a target of derision and fun poking. I decided to stop

in your studies and do not be cheated by boys who want to take

schooling for a year to nurse my second baby. My aunt and teachers

advantage of you when you are poor and vulnerable. I urge you all

were disappointed with me. Though my aunt was hurt, she never

to work hand in hand with other young women in the fight against

stopped encouraging me to go back to school.

poverty. Let us all get started now, for we have a long way to go.

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Bronah Had I not been given this chance I don’t know where I would be today. This act of kindness has changed my life. I can safely say that my early childhood was happy. I lived with my

stopped schooling immediately to look for jobs so that we could

mother, my father and four brothers in Ndola. I was the last born in

have money to buy food. My brothers insisted that I stay on in

the family, and I was the only girl. Everyone spoilt me.

school. They promised that they would take care of me and get me everything I needed for school. However, things got worse, not

As children of the family, my brothers and I had nothing to worry

better. My brothers couldn’t find decent jobs. They became dejected

about. We had adequate food and we lived in a nice house. Life was

and it was painful for me to see how much they were suffering to try

good to us. I attended primary school, and after Grade 7 I passed

and cushion me from feeling our parents’ loss. I lost hope and I lost

the exams and was accepted into Grade 8.

interest in school.

Then my mother died.

One of my cousins in Samfya heard about our suffering. She sent for me. When I got to Samfya I found that she had submitted my name

My mother’s death was a shock. I knew she was often not well, but

and I was on the Camfed programme. I could not believe that such

when you are a child with the security of a home and family around

good fortune could come to me. Camfed has become my mother

you, it doesn’t cross your mind that you can ever lose your mother. A

and my father.

few months later, my father also died. Losing them both within such a short period was too much for me to bear.

I hope and pray that every girl who has a second chance at education will seize the opportunity with both hands. Such chances

After my father had been buried, our relatives divided our

are rare. Had I not been given this chance I don’t know where I

possessions between themselves and left us stranded. My brothers

would be today. This act of kindness has changed my life.

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Kabinda Too many children under one roof make life difficult for everyone and good for no one. Polygamy really hurt me and my mother. My Dad married a second

I started looking for work to raise money for my school fees. I had to

wife and not long afterwards he chased my mother and me away.

go to different farms and meet people of all characters and manners.

Mum and I had no other option but to look for another place to live.

I worked as a labourer. My family was very discouraging because

We found a remote piece of land and started farming to support

they were against my going to school. At the same time, having a

ourselves. I stopped going to school because the school was too

family meant that I could not qualify for any sponsorship – two living

far from where Mum and I were staying. I was only seven years old.

parents are expected to support their children.

Whenever we needed to buy anything we had to walk to Mwense – which was a distance of 49 kilometres.

I am very bright at school but because of suffering I am often tempted to give up. All I want is to continue with my education. For

For some reason, Dad changed his mind and one day he came for

me, it is the practice of polygamy that is to blame for my situation.

us and we went back home. But soon after this he lost his job, and

I am not the only one to have this experience in my life. Too many

with two wives and two families to support he couldn’t manage.

children under one roof make life difficult for everyone and good for

When I was accepted in Grade 8 I did not take up the offer because

no one.

we had no money.

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Mary I have regained my self-esteem and my community respects me again. I would like to encourage others not to lose hope. Failing my Grade 9 exams meant that I had to find a husband at a

I don’t know what would have happened to us if I had not joined

young age. I was so lucky to find a man who made me happy and I

Cama. When the opportunity came I did not waste any time. I

moved to my husband’s home in Kitwe where we were blessed with

rushed to register so that I could become a member. I received a

four children. It was an utter shock when I lost my husband to a sudden

letter that told me I could attend Cama, and I said, “Is it me?” and I

illness. After his death, I had to go back home to Samfya. He was the

ended up dancing and jumping. During the months that followed,

breadwinner for the family and I could not continue living in town.

I became an active member and I was given a grant to start my own business. My business is doing well and my life has improved.

My husband’s relatives grabbed all that he had left for me, and

I am able to take my children to school with less difficulty. They can

I went back to the village with nothing. This caused me a lot of

now have decent meals and clothes. No small thing when you have

pain and grief. My children were too young to understand our

started with nothing in your hands.

predicament. I was not working and life became tough. To make matters worse, my husband’s family accused me of being responsible

I have regained my self-esteem and my community respects me

for his death.

again. I would like to encourage others not to lose hope.

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Ambassador Gwendoline Konie To educate a man is to educate an individual, but to educate a woman is to educate the whole nation. Both my parents were teachers. As a result, even as a young child

educate a woman is to educate the whole nation”. This philosophy

I emerged from my mother’s kindergarten class armed with the

influenced both the boys and girls in my family, and it was perhaps

understanding that mothers and teachers must “probe a child’s mind

my father’s sense of humour to determine that we never forgot it by

in order to increase that child’s thinking capacity”. In Bemba, this

naming my younger brother Aggrey, after his inspirational namesake.

saying is expressed as “Chalilinga uku konkonsha ku bongo bwa mwana pakuti aba namano”.

The long and short of it was that I grew up with no hang-ups about gender and ability – in spite of the prevailing paternalistic attitudes

My father’s philosophy followed that of the great Ghanaian

of the time. This philosophy has stood me in good stead, perhaps

educationalist, Dr. James Aggrey of Achimota College. He shared the

more than any other ability or advantage I may have had in life.

firm belief that, “To educate a man is to educate an individual, but to

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Phoebe You are my daughter. When you are not happy I can feel it, even if you are far away. I am the third born in a family of six – four girls and two boys. When

knew my parents to be and wonder how I could go back to them. It

I was young, my father was working for a construction company in

was too far to walk, and I had no money to escape by bus.

Kafue. Unfortunately, his job meant that we had to move around to live at different building sites. This affected my schooling. I would

One day, as usual, I was sent to fetch water as the two were about

start Grade 1 at one site, then go back to pre-school because the

to start eating. As I walked slowly towards the house, the heavy

next site would have no primary school.

container on my head making me look shorter, I saw my father coming towards me. I thought I was dreaming. He took the container

When I was in Grade 5, my paternal grandmother came to visit us.

from my head, and both of us were crying. He told me to pack my

My grandmother was a businesswoman. She lived with one of her

things and we left my grandmother’s home that very day. On the way

daughters, my father’s sister. She asked my father if she could take

I asked my father who had told him about my mistreatment.

me with her. She said I would go to school in Samfya because her home was close to the school. My parents agreed.

“You are my daughter. When you are not happy I can feel it, even if you are far away. One night when I dreamt about you, I saw you

I had been in school barely a week when my grandmother’s attitude

crying. I had to come and check whether it was just a dream.”

towards me changed. She told me I had to do all the household chores before going to school. My own grandmother turned me into

Since I had only been away for six months, I was allowed to go into

a slave. The tasks I was made to do were far beyond my capability,

Grade 6. In the same year, my father died. We went back to Samfya

but she beat me up if I failed to do them. What made my suffering

with my mother. I was able to find a school place. I sat my Grade 7

worse was hunger. Each time food was prepared, my grandmother

examination and I passed well. I was selected to go into Grade 8.

would send me to fetch water or wash her clothes. While I was

However, I needed uniform, books and shoes. My mother could not

gone, the two of them would eat all the food. I only got back in

afford to provide them. My chances of getting a good education

time to wash the plates and pots that they had used.

were buried with my father. It is painful to drop out of school for lack of support. Even the people in the village felt sorry for me. A

My aunt would sometimes hide some food and give it to me secretly.

teacher from Chisokone Basic School came to my home. He told

I used to watch dogs being fed by their owners and I would wonder

me about an organisation that would help me. He said the school’s

what would happen if I would run and get the food from the dogs.

committee had selected me as one of the pupils to be supported and

Whenever I found a moment to rest I would look in the direction I

I was able to go back to school and start Grade 8.

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Chapter Three

Stories of Change

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Come

is the day when our voices can be heard from the top, producing

an echo that awakens all those who are asleep. Judith Kumire, Educationalist, activist and advocate, Zimbabwe

In the journey of my life, I’ve encountered many hurdles that have left me stronger. They were actually steps up the ladder. I have managed to be where I am now mainly because of my education. To me, education is a weapon against poverty. Fiona Muchembere, former Camfed beneficiary and founding member of Cama - now Camfed Programme Manager for Governance and Advocacy

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Priscilla He came to talk to my parents and struggled with them to find a solution that would allow me to stay in school and delay marriage. I was born in a remote part of Samfya District, in Luapula Province.

He came to talk to my parents and struggled with them to find a

In my home area it is normal for girl children to drop out of school

solution that would allow me to stay in school and delay marriage.

even at lower primary level and get married.

At last they agreed to send me to my cousin in Mansa to continue my education away from home. I had full support from my cousin

Right from the start, I was a very bright pupil and always came first

who took me in to his family, and even met part of my school

in my class. Yet before I had finished primary school, my parents

expenses. I graduated from Grade 12 and went on to train as a

were arranging for me to marry a stranger. This is common practice

teacher. I am now teaching at Mandubi Basic School. I am married to

in my home area and my parents didn’t think twice about it.

a man of my choice, and we have two children. Whenever I am able to, I visit my parents. I do my best to support them and some of their

It was all I could do to persuade them to let me finish basic school

relatives.

before the wedding took place. When the news of my impending marriage reached my head teacher’s ears, he sent for me. He gave

I write this story as a lesson to other girls to be strong and stick

me a long talk on the importance of education. I told him it was

to their principles. Although my parents felt education was for

not my wish to get married. I was doing so under pressure from my

boy children and not girl children, I persevered and completed my

family. He felt very sorry for me and we discussed ways in which he

education. They are now the first people to speak about the value of

could help me.

educating all children.

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Leah The other villagers would warn him not to boast because he was investing in the wind. I was born in Kalomo District. My parents were peasant farmers.

Seeing how much I wanted to be like them, the town girls organised

They were illiterate since they had not had the chance to go to

a boyfriend for me. I was coached into mischief. I became pregnant

school. My mother, though not educated, looked forward to seeing

and was expelled from school. My boyfriend took me to his brother’s

her first-born daughter go to school. When I was finally enrolled

home in Kabwe. Having been brought up in a Christian family, I

in Grade 1, she got excited and sewed pieces of her old clothes to

found life in my boyfriend’s home uncomfortable. His brother was a

make a dress that would make me presentable at school.

drunkard who would come home and fight with his family. This was torture to me. I began to hate myself. I stopped blaming the town girls

At school I worked very hard and excelled. The boys in my class

and acknowledged that I had made a mistake. I regretted all I had

could not challenge my performance. In Grade 7, I obtained the

done and needed forgiveness. I went back to my parents. I realised

highest marks in my school. I was excited when I received my

the kind of misery I had caused my mother who my father accused

acceptance letter to Grade 8 earlier than the rest. I was selected to

of coaching me into mischief. I had destroyed my father’s image and

go to Lusanga Secondary School. It was not easy then to be selected

the pride he had in my achievements at school. He became a laughing

to attend a boarding school. It was at this time that my father began

stock in the village and a target for ridicule. This I knew was not right.

to show an interest in my education. He boasted about me. He

I promised myself not to disappoint my parents ever again.

would even say: “There is no one in this village who has a daughter in secondary school.” The other villagers would warn him not to

I set my mind to becoming a teacher and I studied for my O-levels.

boast because he was investing in the wind. This was so because

Obtaining the O-level certificate gained me entry into Nkrumah

society regarded education as for boys rather than for girls.

Teacher Training College and eventually to the University of Zambia. I became a lecturer and was promoted to the position of senior

At Lusanga School, life started changing for me. I met girls from

education officer. I am now a senior educationalist in Zambia,

well-to-do families. They dressed well and had inspiring stories about

specialising in training teachers. I have travelled the world and have

life. I regarded them as wonderful girls worth emulating. One story

had many great experiences.

they told me, which I still vividly remember, was that it was old fashioned if a girl had no boyfriend. As a village girl, I wished to get

A lot of things happen to block our progress in education. If we are

out of being out of fashion. I was still wearing long dresses and flat

determined we can overcome them. Education is the only way that

shoes. I was teased and humiliated by their comments.

we can change our destiny.

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Chanda I was a single mother, with unfinished schooling and no hope of anything better coming along for me and my child. My mother’s life was sad. She lost her first husband at an early

false. He abandoned me when he found out that I was pregnant and

age, and remarried a man who was indifferent to her. One day we

I gave birth without any support from him. It was a very tough time

received news of her sister’s death, and the sadness seemed to

in my life.

overwhelm her. She passed away just a few months later. I was a single mother, with unfinished schooling and no hope of My father then said that we were not his children. He abandoned us

anything better coming along for me and my child. But a Cama

and without our mother to protect us, I dropped out of school and

mentor came to Mikenge where I live. She explained that Cama is

started to go with men to pay for food for myself and my brother.

a network to support women and I joined and was given a grant to

During this time I met a man who promised to marry me. I thought

start a business. Now, when I look ahead to my future, the view is

I would escape from the life I was leading, but his promises were

very different from the darkness that I saw before.

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Nakweti I have the confidence that I would not throw away another chance to reach out for my dream. I am the second born in a family of seven. I started my primary

He said he loved me and I started going out with him. The following

education at Sioma Basic School and I was a brilliant pupil, so

year, I got pregnant. I knew I had betrayed everyone who had believed

primary education was not a problem for me.

in me. I tried not to lose hope and I continued with my studies.

After I wrote my Grade 7 examinations, as it was time to cultivate

It is very challenging to be pregnant while schooling. You feel you

the fields, I assisted my parents with the work whilst waiting for my

have let people down, and friends seem far away with no cares or

results. I continued to do well, and my parents encouraged me to

worries. It is a lonely thing, even when the child has been born.

work extra hard. I had no disturbances despite my village being far from the school. It was not surprising that the following year I was

I had a baby girl in the first month of Grade 12. Since that time I have

the only non-repeater girl who made it to Grade 10, and everyone

tried to follow two paths – education and motherhood – but it is

was so proud of me.

challenging to do two things at the same time. I wrote my final exams and took my results, but I could not get a place at Malengwa Teacher

I was identified to be a Camfed beneficiary and that took all the

Training College as I hoped because my daughter was too young. I still

worry about my education away from my parents. But also in that

wish to improve my education. I have the confidence that I would not

year I was enticed by a certain boy.

throw away another chance to reach out for my dream.

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Casey I felt that the world was turning its back on me.

I was brought up in a happy Christian home. My father worked in

My cousin asked me to go with her. I did not know that her plan

the City Council and my mother was a housewife who took very

was to leave me alone with this man. When the man grabbed me, I

good care of us. Despite being a loving mother, she did not tolerate

screamed and screamed but no one heard me because of the noise

bad behaviour. I am proud to say I was one of my mother’s favourite

from the wedding house. When I started to scream, he had also

children. We had a good relationship because I was quiet and

covered my mouth with his hands, so my screams were muffled. In

performed everything to her expectation.

the end, the man raped me. The pain and the feeling that I had been violated were too much for me. To make matters worse, when I got

At the age of 15, I qualified to go to secondary school. During

home my mother would not listen to my explanation. She was so

this time I was going through traditional rites of passage into

disappointed that she beat me almost to death.

womanhood. I now became a young woman. My father retired in this same year and he went home to the village. I could not go with

I felt that the world was turning its back on me. I could not handle

them because the secondary school back home was too far. The

the situation so very early the following morning, I left home and

family decided to leave me with my aunt.

spent the whole day at my friend’s home. I told my friend not to tell anyone that I was with her. When my mother came to her house

The way of living in my aunt’s home was different from the way

to find out whether I was there, she told her that I wasn’t. In the

things were in my home. My aunt had five children. The oldest

evening she came back and found me. I was in pain physically,

was a girl two years older than me. We became close, but I did not

spiritually and emotionally. I told myself that I would never forgive

approve of many things she did. She was already going out with

her and the man who had raped me. In spite of her anger, my

boys, and she sometimes spent nights out. This was never done in

mother bought me some painkillers. I took all ten of them at once in

my own home. Not even my oldest sister had ever spent a night out.

an attempt to put an end to my life.

When I was in Grade 9, she started inviting boys for me, but I always

My education was affected. I lost interest in almost everything.

turned them down. During this same year my mother came to visit

I failed my Grade 9 exams. I developed a very negative attitude

us. It was really good to be with her. It was during my mother’s visit

towards men. I told myself I would never get married or have a

that I faced the biggest challenge in my life. One day, there was a

boyfriend. I thank my brother who came and took me to his home

wedding at our neighbour’s house. Little did I know that my cousin

in Southern Province. My future began to look better as each new

had organised for me to meet a man there. The man was seven

day dawned. I repeated Grade 9. I concentrated on my studies and

years older than me and I was not interested in him at all.

eventually passed my exams.

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Mwelwa According to our tradition and culture, it was taboo for a young woman to stand up in public and talk about sex. I was four months pregnant with my second child when my husband

involved in Cama’s activities in my community. I was elected as Vice-

left me, and he left me with nothing. He said he wanted a more

Chairperson of the association, and in November 2005 I was chosen

educated woman. I was not educated enough for him. My education

as a regional coordinator at a national Cama meeting in Lusaka.

had ended after Grade 9 because my parents could not afford to support me further. As the oldest of six children, I had to help my

I am now responsible for the Cama Community Health Programme,

family, and so, like many other girls, I dropped out of school to face

and have trained 100 women as Community Health Activists, who

a future of work or marriage. It was an irony that my husband left

in turn have reached 15,000 Zambians with vital information about

me because of my supposed ignorance and lack of education, so

HIV/AIDS and other health issues. According to our tradition and

that I became a burden to my family after all.

culture, it was taboo for a young woman to stand up in public and talk about sex, reproductive health and such issues as HIV/AIDS in

When I returned to my family, my life changed and everything

the presence of elders – yet AIDS affects women more than men.

appeared to go wrong. My father died a year after my divorce. I did not know what to do, or where to go. For seven days I refused

These are the same cultures and traditions that allowed my husband

to eat anything. Yet I did not die. Finally, I recovered and made up

to abandon his wife and child. Things are changing now. Cama has

my mind to face the future with courage. I started working at a

helped me a lot. I have come to know so many things. I am able to

company called CEFRA, which is owned by one of the community

make decisions and advise my fellow members. I am able to support

members in the district. Life improved although I was still not able to

my family. Through Cama, I am able to speak to people and raise

provide the basic needs at home.

important issues that affect young people. I am now empowered with information and can help young women facing similar

In June 2005, Cama was launched in my area. Things changed

challenges to the ones I have gone through. Gone are the days when

for me then when I was accepted as a member and started to be

young women were asleep.

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Female Leadership by Ambassador Gwendoline Konie

Mine is a candidacy

Mine is indeed a candidacy

for every ordinary man and woman

for every sister who ever had to stamp her foot in rage

who ever believed in the God given ability

at her erstwhile brother, demanding recognition

for a human being to rise above the ordinary.

for her leadership qualities!

It is a candidacy

Above all

for every man born of a woman who has revered that woman for having given him life.

Mine is a candidacy for every girl whose dreams on countless occasions

Mine is a candidacy

transported her to a world of unlimited freedoms;

for every man who ever fathered a daughter

where she was unafraid to be who she wanted to be.

who was a potential President. To crown it all Mine is indeed a candidacy for every mother who ever spent countless hours

Mine is a candidacy

grooming her daughter for a fuller life.

for that special woman with sufficient courage and arrogance, coupled with the right amount of humility,

It is a candidacy

to stand her in good-stead, when she crosses her

for every brother whose sister’s leadership potential

political threshold as a liberated soul

drove him up the wall and generated sibling jealousy!

capable of becoming whomsoever she was destined to be.

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About the Publisher

The Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) is an international

in Lusaka. The programmes have a positive effect on the wider

non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS

community as well as the individual. Educating girls and women

in rural communities in Africa by educating girls and investing in their

unlocks energies which drive social and economic development, and

economic independence and leadership once they complete school.

helps to build foundations for the well-being of the next generation

Studies in many countries have shown that educating girls makes a

of Zambians.

significant contribution to development, as educated women keep themselves healthier, protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and have

Cama is a growing network of young rural African women, most

fewer and healthier children, more of whom attend school.

of whom have been supported through school by Camfed. Many Cama members receive business training and loans and through their

Camfed Zambia was established in 2001. Since then, the

enterprise become business women, role models, health educators

programmes have grown rapidly and Camfed is active in rural

and philanthropists, supporting themselves and others in their

districts in the north and west of the country, with a head office

communities. Visit www.camfed.org to find out more

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Growing up in Zambia

Listen to my story Listen to my Story is a books of images, and accompanying stories by children and young people from across Zambia. It is a teaching resource that we hope pupils and teachers will enjoy. All of us at Camfed very much appreciate the financial support of the UK Department for International Development in the production of this book and accompanying materials. Camfed would also like to thank the Zambia Ministry of Education. Be inspired by Leah, Mwangala and the other writers who tell their stories in this book. Find your talent and reach for the stars.

I believe education, hard work, determination and

self-confidence are the only way to success.

Growing Up in Zambia - Listen To My Story  

For Camfed, ‘education for all’ means that all children, not only the academically gifted, wealthy or able-bodied, must be given the chance...

Growing Up in Zambia - Listen To My Story  

For Camfed, ‘education for all’ means that all children, not only the academically gifted, wealthy or able-bodied, must be given the chance...

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