Where Zacharia grew up, in the wards of Kitwe, lives can take a dangerous turn at a young age. Primary education in Zambia may be free, but the fees required from grade 8 onwards are a cost too far for many families — particularly those affected by affected by HIV and AIDS. For the children kept outside of school, the lure of gangs and crime can all too often fill the educational vacuum. Zacharia believes strongly that this could very easily have been his path. “I would have joined any of the many local gangs”, he says now. “My dreams would have been completely shattered.”
While his dreams are not yet fulfilled, Zacharia’s life has taken a different and better path.
Zacharia’s need for support was identified by Cecily’s Fund in 2008 and he was helped with the payment of fees charged at grade 8. Attending Mitanto Secondary School, he already believed that education was the key to his future. He avidly attended anti-AIDS clubs run by the Peer Educators trained by Cecily’s Fund and our partner CHEP; upon successfully completeing grade 12 Zacharia was invited to train as a Peer Educator himself.
“I was more motivated, had higher self-esteem and was also knowledgeable about sexual health”, Zacharia says of his time as a Peer Educator. His experience with the programmes of Cecily’s Fund continued, as he moved from delivering sessions on comprehensive sexual education to becoming a Fresh Start trainer. In this role, he helped young people in Wusakile and Chimwemwe learn vital financial management skills, so that they might better prepare themselves for a self-sufficient life after education.
Now, Zacharia is once more planning his own future. By attending a Sunshine Club, organised through our Connecting Communities programme, he was able to meet Zambian music producer Tonny Breezy. This inspirational meeting reignited Zacharia’s passion for music, to the extent that he is now registered as an artist with the Zambia’s National Arts Council and plans to release an album in the summer of 2018.
To Zacharia, one of the most important aspects of the support he has received from Cecily’s Fund is the impact it has had on his family. He is now in a position to support his siblings with their own goals, and is confident that the family are in a much stronger position thanks to the intervention of Cecily’s Fund and our donors.
Cecily’s Fund believes strongly that in Zambia, education is the best means to break the cycle of povety for individuals like Zacharia, their families, and their communities. For over two decades, we have been raising money in the UK in order to implement life-changing programmes in Zambia — from providing access to education to the training in sexual health and business skills that are vital to building a safe and self-sufficient life.
By donating to Cecily’s Fund you are helping to make this crucial interventions possible; together, we can provide Zambians with the opportunities they deserve, and transform lives like Zacharia’s for good.