In Zambia, over 40% of the population live in extreme poverty and the fees that must be paid for children to progress beyond grade 8 and into secondary school are simply not affordable. This is especially true for the families of orphaned and vulnerable children. Cecily’s Fund aims to help children continue beyond primary education, unlock their full potential, and break the cycle that traps communities in poverty.
Vincent (pictured left) is 14 years old and lives in Kitwe’s Mindolo North ward, within Zambia’s resource-rich Copperbelt Province. He lives with his grandmother, who does not have a source of income. Vincent is blunt about their circumstances: “our survival is from hand to mouth.” Vincent’s father passed away and his mother and three siblings live elsewhere. His mother can provide only limited financial help from the income she makes selling tomatoes.
Vincent’s prospects outside of school were poor. He expected to stay at home or to help his mother with her small business selling tomatoes. Other children consider more desperate means to help their families - John (pictured centre), for example, says he would have looked to stealing or selling drugs to help his own grandmother get by.
Our local partners in Kitwe, Afya Mzuri, identified Vincent’s need for support. Through them, Cecily’s Fund has paid 50% of his school fees. “If I had not received the help”, Vincent says, “I would not be in school.” Now, Vincent is in his 10th grade and aspires to be a lawyer. We know that only education can give Vincent and his family a chance at a path out of poverty: our support has lifted his aspirations but life is still hard. Vincent and his grandmother eat only one meal a day and rely on help from their community to get by. When he finishes school, our hope is that Vincent will secure an income that will give himself and his family a better future.
Each year Cecily’s Fund is helping to make education possible for children like Vincent and John but there is so much more for us to do. George (pictured right) is one of a number of children identified recently by Afya Mzuri as being in need of support. He lives in Twatasha ward and has done well enough at school to progress to grade 8 – but the fees are far beyond his means. Having lost both parents, he lives with her widowed sister. Without the money for fees, his education is on hold. “My life as a youngster is being wasted”, he says. “I hope to be something big in future but that might not be because am not going to school.”
With your help, Cecily’s Fund can identify more children like Vincent, John and George and provide them the support their need to complete school, make the most of their lives, and break the cycle of poverty in their communities.