When I grow up I want to be a lawyer, a doctor, a pilot, a teacher and the list goes on and on. This is what most of us have come across during our childhood but very few have lived their dreams. The reasons for not realizing our own dreams are best known to us, but for some it might either be the lack of influence from their mentors, the ambition to try new things or the environment that surrounded them. Whatever the reason, we had a journey and of course it is still there.
When I look into the eyes of most of our scholarship girls, I read a clear message that says; this is where our journey begins, this is where we find the lost opportunity. “I am extremely happy because I am now motivated and can pursue my dreams,” said Malitina Chibekete as if in confirmation of my thoughts. Malitina, one of the new girls under Join My Village receiving a secondary school scholarship, aspires to see herself in nursing attire. According to her, being sent back from school to get school fees is something that didn’t go down well with her at all.
The young Judith Phiri, a first year student at Kafukule Secondary school, says, “Before JMV, my first days in school were full of worries such that I could not concentrate in class as expected. I didn’t have peace of mind, every time I thought of school fees and needs despite the determination on my part to go on till the end. But now my future can be possible and together with Join My Village, my fears are fading and I am prepared to address the challenges my village, my family and my fellow girls are currently facing.”
Girls all over the world in general and Kasungu in particular are always on the oppressed side of priorities. Many families, guardians and parents would prefer sending boys to school amidst the little resources they have, at the expense of a girl child. Some would not even care whether the girl child gets married even if she is not physically ready to do so, no wonder there are many teen mothers in Kasungu villages because of the stereotypical attitudes the society has towards the girl child.
With Join My Village at the centre of it all, our girls in Kasungu see their future not as a mountain but a leveled ground, where both boys and girls can compete and identify their opportunities and make choices that will change their lives and generations to come. I am one of the people who strongly believe that a child born from an educated woman has higher chances of being educated too, because women feel very proud when they invest in their own children and see them succeed.
Our girls might not be in College but just by finishing their secondary school, their lifestyle isn’t the same, their marriageable age has been delayed and they have higher chances of surviving and looking after their families and children. They can no longer be negatively influenced when making decisions and can now achieve what was seen as almost impossible to them as Maria Kamwendo, another new JMV scholarship recipient, puts it, “I feel like I can now climb any mountain and this gives me the power to reach for new heights.”
In Kasungu, when a girl is not in boarding and yet she is in secondary school, then she is operating from home or self-boarding in an unsecured person’s home where she becomes prone to unruly behaviour that can put her life at risk. The JMV scholarship, which has so far been provided to more than 800 girls, has not only helped a good number of these girls in finishing their secondary school and preparing them for a better world, but also making the future of the current students, a bright possibility!