Memory is one of the beneficiaries under AAR Japan’s schooling support projectfunded by Globalgiving.
Memory was born in 1997 in Lusaka. She is currently staying with her 49-year-old mother Rhodah and 5 siblings. Her father left the family when Memory was born, because she was born through C-section and her father was not happy about the surgical procedure. He believed that medical doctors might have left instruments in his wife’s uterus.
Rhodahwas left to care for her 7 children.Memory was still a baby at the time. Life was difficult for Rhodah, because as a fulltime housewife, she had no education to get a good paying job.Rhodah started selling oranges and bananas to feed her family. Though she had little income, she even tried to send her children to school. Due to the lack of financial resources, however,none of them could continue. Memory was the most eager one of all to continue her education, and in 2005, Memory’s wish found the way.She was recruited onto the AAR Japan schooling support project. Since then, AAR has been assisting her with school fees and necessary items such as notebooks, pens, and school uniforms. She is currently in grade 10 at Flying Angels Secondary School and is a very active participant in school.
HER CURRENT LIVING CONDITIONS
Memory’s brother has recently passed away from tuberculosis which is one of the most common opportunistic infectious diseases caused by HIV. Now Rhodahis the only breadwinner of the family, and she pays rentfrom the little profitshe makes. As she sells perishable food items, her earning is unstable; which makes it difficult for her to earn enough money for rent and three meals for her children. Memory and her family survive on two meals a day or sometimes one meal a day. To make the matters worse, Rhodah was diagnosed with hypertension a few months ago. For survival, Memory had no other choice but to work. She started selling fruits with her mother on weekends and holidays. This extra work sometimes hindersMemory from concentrating on her education, although she is a very motivated pupil. We often visit her to support her, because we sincerely hope that she will continue her education and get out this negative cycle.
Memory hopes to complete her secondary school and go to college to be a medical doctor. She says, she wishes to contribute to the development of Zambia in the future. We strongly believe that education is the key to tackle the negative socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS and plan to continue our support to children like Memory.
In Zambia, estimated 800,000 children are said to have lost their parents due to HIV/AIDS. Most of these children stay with their grandparents, their relatives, or their family’s close friends. Many of these host families are not wealthy, unable to send those HIV/AIDS orphans to school. Among those children, some are going through even harder times, suffering from the disease themselves.
AAR Japan started educational support to Awal, one of the HIV/AIDS orphans, in 2008. The little boy with innocent smiles grew up to become a 17-year-old man in 10th grade. He lost his mother at age six, his father at age seven and now lives with his aunt. His aunt and her family of seven are never rich, living on only 300 kwacha, which is equivalent to approximately 50 US dollars, a month. Awal’s aunt is struggling with health problems these days.
To make matters worse, Awal has recently come down with the AIDS symptoms. He became HIV positive through maternal-fetal transmission; and knowing of his HIV positive status, Awal has been taking antiretroviral drugs since he was little. Antiretroviral drugs suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease; however, he quit taking the drugs recently. This caused skin rash on his face.
Awal’s friend who had also been taking antiretroviral drugs passed away; which led him to believe that he had no hope for his future and that he would die young anyway. His host family did not encourage him to continue the treatment, either.
We were very worried that Awal had stopped taking medication. Angela Mutale, a staff member of AAR Japan Zambia Office, attempted to see him in person and talk him into resume his treatment, but she was not welcomed at first. Awal did not want to see Angela, and his aunt was not very supportive on this matter. After many visits and conversations, however, Awal and his aunt accepted Angela’s sincerity. Awal finally visited the clinic with Angela, took blood examination, resumed his treatment, and recovered his hope for his future.
Among the 43 children whom AAR supports today, there are HIV/AIDS orphans who contracted AIDS though maternal-fetal transmission like Awal. There are also HIV/AIDS orphans who are not contracted with AIDS but are forced to live on their own or at an orphanage. Even the HIV/AIDS orphans who have relatives to live with are obliged to work in order to support their host families. The government of Zambia recognize the necessity of establishing a support system for these HIV/AIDS orphans, but it is not realized yet. Without appropriate support from the government, many of HIV/AIDS orphans struggle not only physically but psychologically as well.
Some of them have issues such as young pregnancy and underage drinking. In order to tackle solve these problems, we could not wait for the government of Zambia. We have to keep encouraging each family to create their own support system at home. AAR Japan started a new program in 2013 with the help of psycho-social counselor, so as to help the HIV/AIDS orphans and their families solve their everyday problems.
Awal’s medical condition has been stable since he had resumed the treatment, but we cannot be off-guard yet. AAR Japan, with the help of local volunteer staff, regularly checks up on Awal to make sure that he is taking the treatment and that his condition is stable. It is our sincere hope that Awal will continue his treatment and graduate his school, so that he could enjoy what awaits him in the future.
Note: In view of privacy protection, assumed names are used in the article, to protect the identity of the beneficiaries.
Benson MALAWA is a 16-year-old student, who goes to Flying Angels Community School in Ng’ombe Compound in Lusaka. He passed the National Examination of Grade 9 last year and successfully went on to Grade 10 this January. Ever since Benson lost his mother to AIDS four years ago, he has lived with his grandfather, Cosmos SHACHELE. His house, made of irregular-shaped blocks, has five rooms that can barely accommodate all eleven family members including Benson and his grandfather. Cosmos feeds his family repairing shoes and selling bananas in the compound. However, his monthly income is so low that he cannot buy enough food to feed all his family members three regular meals a day. Cosmos is very proud of Benson, but he cannot afford his school expenses under such severe financial constraints. In response to the situation, AAR has supported Benson’s school fees, uniform, shoes and stationery every year.
Benson has good attendance in school, maintains great performance, and always ranks within the tenth place in his class. His notebook is neatly written and covers all the important points from the classes he attends. His teachers praise his great performance, giving written comments of ‘excellent!’ on the mathematics exercise on his notebook. In Zambia, school textbooks are so expensive that most students cannot afford them. Students instead carefully copy what teachers write on a blackboard on their notebooks and use them as if they were textbooks. Benson normally remains in classroom after he finishes all classes of the day, though he occasionally helps his grandfather’s work immediately after school. As Benson strongly hopes to go to a university, now he works hard especially on English and mathematics because they are considered to be important subjects in Zambia. After university, he wants to pursue a career as a lawyer because he wishes to help people in need in his country. Such aspiration springs from the vulnerable environment in which he grew up. Benson expressed his gratitude for his schooling saying; “Thank you for your support, which enables me to continue to go to school. God bless you.”
It is estimated that there are approximately 800,000 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS in Zambia. The students we support are amongst these children. Despite their difficult family situations, they strive to do well in school like Benson. Many of these students told AAR staff members that they wish to have a successful career not only to help their own families but also to give back warm support to any of those who are in dire needs of assistance in the future.
Thank you for your kind support to the project ‘Zambia: Support For Schooling of HIV/AIDS Orphans’. In the following report, we would like to share the story of Jennifer, one of the most zealous students we are supporting.
Jennifer, 17, is a 9th grade girl who goes to Roma Girls Secondary School located in Ng’ombe Compound in Lusaka. Her mother died of AIDS just after she gave birth to Jennifer. Her father, Richard, works as a chicken buyer at a market, but his income is not enough to send his daughter to school. AAR Japan has long been supporting the schooling of Jennifer since she was a 1st grader in 2005. She behaves well and works hard at school and at home, having served as a school prefect a couple of times and having been on the top list as for the academic performance. When she was a 7th grader, she got a high score of 807 out of 1000, far beyond the average of 500 at the national examination, which made her qualified to enter Roma Girls Secondary School that is known for its quality education among the community. Even after she entered that school, she did not slow her pace. After all classes are finished, she remains in a classroom and study by herself until 4p.m. every day since it is difficult for her to study at home, once returning home from school, she has to prepare supper for her family and look after her young half-brother and half-sister. Jennifer says she wants to be a doctor in the future because she lost her mother to AIDS and witnessed many sick people in her community such as her mother’s elder sister suffering from high blood pressure.
Jennifer is frugal with words but her determination toward her dream is genuinely solid. She strongly hopes to enter good high school, receive quality education and be permitted to a medical school. In Zambia, all 9th graders take a national examination at the end of the year, of which results decide whether one can continuehigher educationor not. Jennifer is trying her best toward the exam in order to make her dream come true.
AAR Japan carries out income generation activities through which we aim to provide educational support to HIV/AIDS orphans in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. In this report, we would like to introduce Steri (50) and her grandson Moses (15). Steri engages in maize milling, one of the two income generation activities which we implement.
In Zambia, people daily eat a dish called ‘nshima’, made from maize flour which is locally called ‘mealie-meal’. People dry the maize they harvest in the rainy season and usually have it milled at a milling store or a communal milling machine when available. AAR Japan’s Ng’ombe office, located in the suburb of Lusaka, is equipped with a roller milling machine and people in the neighborhood bring the dried maize to have it milled.
Steri started engaging in the maize milling activity soon after AAR Japan began its income generation activities. Before joining this project, she had never used a milling machine and at first she had reams of trouble every day such as jamming the machine with maize. She gradually mastered the operation and she has now learned how to maintain the machine in good condition- she can even fix most cases of trouble. She has also masters to mill according to the each taste of customers. As each customer has a different taste in how much bran should be left and contained, Steri intently listens to the customers and offers exactly what they want. With her sociable and kind personality, she is very popular among the customers.
Steri lives with one child and 11 grandchildren. Moses (15), one of her grandsons, is in the 7th grade at a community school in Ng’ombe Compound. He lost his parents at the age of five and was raised by Steri. He used to misbehave with his friends and be rebellious to his grandmother during his adolescence, but now, he takes good care of the younger cousins and helps his grandmother with daily chores. Steri strongly wishes that he could graduate high school and become an independent adult who respects others.
Moses will start to go to junior high school next year. He will be needed to pay approximately 10 USD a month for a school fee and he will also need new school uniform and stationaries. Students are also required to pay for taking term-end examinations. AAR Japan is currently supporting 47 students and unfortunately we are still unable to cover all the expense of the education by our income generation activities. The donation through GlobalGiving will help to supplement the school fee for each child. Your generous support children will immediately help the students to complete their education which then gives these a strong foundation for a bright future.
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