I recently returned from 6 months of volunteering my efforts and new ideas with small-scale farmers in Zambia. Throughout this whole time I was living the rural way of life in "the bush" with an ever-growing, hard-working family called the Musondas. They are the typical "African" family you hear of living under the poverty line; 13 children, dirt-floor huts, feeding everyone with less than 2 dollars a day. But when you mingle your daily life with their's, these ripped clothes, dirt-smudged face circumstances start to disappear. They are a family. They love each other and fight over who has to fetch the water, they laugh at each other while they're husking corn, they dance at night in front of the solar-powered TV, they have crushes on the neighbors, they get sick and they get better, they are no strangers to hard work, they are clever, but they were born into a village that is slowly evolving.
Every day it was a struggle for my teammate and I, who came to contribute to constructive development, watch a society being disabled by handouts. Out of frustration, for right or wrong, we often refused to give anything.
But overtime I watched as one of my brothers (Steward) who was only 24, work endlessly as a security guard by night and a farmer by day, trying any efforts to save for his(and his fiancee's) future. When I first came to the village I asked, "Steward, is this what you want to do? Farm?"
"Yes, I am a farmer," he said with pride.
"I mean, is that what you want? As a profession?"
"Ahh, I want to be a teacher. But right now I am paying for my brother and sister to finish school. And then I can save for myself."
In order to become a licensed teacher in Zambia, you have to attend a Teacher Training College for two years which costs over 2,000 dollars. But for someone only making 10 dollars a day and trying to support his family; this dream can start to seem unattainable. I watched as he would work and work, only for the tomatoes to dry out or another family emergency to arise. He started inquiring about joining the military or becoming a farm-hand on one of the "big" farms. He was losing hope. I don't know if I'll ever find that balance between development and aid. But Steward is a common-day example of someone trapped in the cycle of poverty.
So on our last night in the bush, I pulled him aside and I made a promise. I told him I didn't have a lot of money, but I had a lot of friends who care. And I promised, to the best of my ability, to raise as much money as I could for him to go to Teacher's Training College.
I naively assumed it would take him around a year to pass the necessary exams and enroll. But my friend, who has agreed to monitor his progress for me, has just recently informed me that he quickly passed all his exams and is now officially enrolled in the Paglory College of Education which commences on January 7th, 2013.
Apparently, Steward really believed in that promise. I know this is bad post-holiday timing and I know wallets are tight right now, but I have to give this my best shot. This is an investment in someone's immediate future who will turn around and invest in the future and education of other young Zambians. Even if you don't have the financial means to contribute, but you believe in the possibility of this, please share this link with others!
Here is the breakdown of costs:
- Tuition: $366 USD
- Accommodation: $150 USD
Total(which I need to transfer to the college ASAP): $516 USD
2nd & 3rd Terms:
- Tuition: $600 USD
- Accommodation: $300 USD
Total: $900 USD
- Tuition: $800 USD
- Accommodation: $450 USD
Total: $1,250 USD
plus 5% fees to gofundme($133 USD)
Grand Total: $2,800 USD
*** Also, for those who are able to donate or for anyone who would like to pass on a word of encouragement - I'm going to try and create a book with a photo and message from every person supporting him on this challenging journey. As a way to inspire, but also to hold him accountable! So please, you're welcome to pass along these messages either through my Facebook or via email at [email redacted].
Thank you for any support you can lend & all the best,
- Ucan Doit
- Rachel Ferguson
- Alena DeGrado
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