“I lost my mother immediately after I was born. I never met my father, only heard of him from my elder brother. At the age of 6, I went to Eastern Province, but my life there was hard. I only stayed because I had nowhere else to go. I lost my grandfather in 2008, and soon after his demise, I stopped going to school. I went back to school in 2010. By then I was in 4th grade, but the distance to and from school was unbearable. What made it worse was that I walked to school on an empty stomach without shoes on my feet. If that was not enough, I had to fetch water before going to school. I would cry during lessons. It got worse in 7th grade because my attention was divided, and I had little or no time to study.
My teachers noticed this and came to my aid. They provided me with food and sanitary towels, but this became an issue with my guardians. I missed school because I had to babysit my cousin’s children, and during exams my guardians discouraged me, saying I would amount to nothing. Even after the results came out, no one was interested in going to check whether I made it or not. When I finally went to school, the teacher was shocked at the fact that no one had told me I had qualified for 8th grade and was the highest among the girls with 684 points. I thought there was no hope for me. I finally met someone who promised to take care of me and get me out of my guardians’ care, but when I got pregnant by him, he disappeared and never came back.
There I was, pregnant and alone at the mercies of my guardians. Even though they allowed me to continue staying with them, inwardly I knew they were greatly disappointed in me. I moved to Lusaka to live with my aunt in Lusaka’s garden compound. When I gave birth to my son, I lost all hope of ever going back to school. My aunt lacked the financial capacity of sending me back to school.
This all changed the day my grandmother met the Lubuto Library Partners DREAMS outreach officers who were conducting community mobilization at the market. My grandmother told me about the DREAMS family literacy program for young mothers aged 15-24, with the possibility of enrolling them back into school. Upon hearing about the possibility of going back to school, I rushed to the library and joined the program.”
Even after successfully graduating from family literacy, Wendy did not want to stop attending the DREAMS programs at the library and enrolled for the all-girls mentorship program. “My goal is to focus on my son, and I can’t let this one opportunity pass me by. To me, the library is my safe haven. I come here to participate in the DREAMS programs because of the sisterhood formed with the girls. I want to go back to school and study nursing. I have learnt that even in difficulties people should never lose hope; even after having a child or after facing rejection there is still hope. There are many successful women who have struggled, and if they made it so can I. I am very excited about going back to school. I am not doing this for me but for my son. He is all I have.”
Wendy applied for the DREAMS scholarship and was selected to be among the girls awarded a fully paid scholarship. She is now back in school, working hard to achieve her dreams.