“Everything changed when my father died in 2015. My mother was just a housewife with no stable income to support her 10 children. I knew a lot was going to change at home, but my biggest fear was stopping school again.”
15-year-old Cece had already been out of school once for four years due to financial constraints, and with her father dying she feared she may have to stop school again.
“Even when I was faced with so much uncertainty with regards to my future, I refused to give up on my dream of completing my secondary education. My mother found a job as a househelp in one of the farms in Kaupe Lusaka West, and with the money she earned, I was able to continue going to school.
Because my mother’s salary was not enough for all of us, my elder brother had to go and live at the Mthunzi drop in center for boys. One day as I was going to visit my brother at the center, the center manager told me about a program for girls called DREAMS at the Mthunzi Lubuto American Youth Library.
I went to the library and signed up for the program. During the DREAMS mentoring, I learnt about HIV—its spread, prevention, treatment, and facts and myths surrounding the disease. I had heard of HIV before, but I didn’t know much about it, and during the sessions I discovered some of the things I thought were true are actually myths.
Apart from the interesting topics we learnt about, I always looked forward to fieldtrips. My favorite fieldtrip was to the American Corner. Not only was it my first time at NIPA (Nation Institute of Public Administration), but it was also my first time to use a computer. I was nervous the first time I used a computer, but since the new computers came to the library I am now am more confident about using computers.
I want to be a nurse, but the fear of dropping out of school is always at the back of my mind: ‘What if my mother can’t support me? What will happen to my nursing dream?’ But most of the time I don’t let such thoughts bring me down; I know all will be well.”
Cece graduated from the mentoring program, but still attends sessions and is now an outstanding peer-mentor for the other girls enrolled in the mentoring now. She was also awarded a scholarship through Lubuto which guarantees her everything she needs to stay in school until graduation, so she no longer has to fear dropping out!