Tionenji & Linda
“Our father is a medical doctor. When he married our mother, she became a housewife. In 2006, our parents got divorced for reasons they were not willing to share with us. Our mother and our other siblings were forced to relocate to Lusaka, the capital city in Zambia.
This is where hell on earth began, for us. Our mother was not working, but she was supposed to take care of us. Our father re-married only months after we left. We moved in with our uncle at first, and then we started living with our mum. Life became harder than before, because mum was not able to take us to school. When we tried to reach out to our father, he told us, “There is no place for you with me, now.” When we did start going to school, we had to go on an empty stomach.”
Tionenji: “In 2012, I sat for my grade seven exams and passed to grade eight, but I stayed home for a year because mum could not manage to sponsor all of us children. The next year, God was gracious, and I was back in school. In 2015, I sat for my grade nine exams and passed. 2016 came, and I was supposed to go to Lusaka Secondary School, but due to a lack of finances, I stayed home for one term. Each and every day that came, life got worse. I heard of the DREAMS mentoring program at the library and enrolled for the program. I told my sister Linda about it, but she was hesitant. So I said, ‘Follow me and stand a chance of being sponsored to go to school, or remain home doing nothing.’”
Linda: “I followed my sister’s advice and went to sign up for the DREAMS mentoring program. We both applied for the DREAMS scholarship, but I was the one who was selected. My sister was happy for me, because she believes I have a long way to go in terms of school. I am currently in grade 10, and she is in her final year of high school. The DREAMS project has taken a huge burden off our mother. Now, she only has to worry about some of the expenses for Tionenji, who is being partially assisted by another scholarship provider. I go to school under the DREAMS scholarship, which is an all-expenses paid scholarship.”
*This story was published in DREAMS Innovation Challenge: Silence Speaks- Youth Stories