Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

My name is Albertina. I am 18 years old. I live in Zambia with my mother, my grandmother and my siblings.

I have been a sponsored child with ChildFund since I was five years old.

When I grew up, I realised I wanted to be involved in activities for young people and so I became a peer educator with ChildFund in 2013.

As a peer educator I hold meetings where I educate people in my community. I talk with and mentor people in my same age group about things like early marriage, early pregnancy, staying in school, etc.

At school, what I saw was bad. It troubled me. The majority of children who were married at my school dropped out in Grade 6. They did not continue to high school.

It hurt to see that. Although you start school at the same time and you started as many, only two or three of you complete your education.

Of all my friends who I started school with, all of them have dropped out of school. They have all married early and started having children. I saw this practice was harmful.

We all have many problems, but when you look at the girls who dropped out and got married, they have more problems.

Children who are married do not get to do the things they desire and accomplish their goals.

I believe that every person has things to be accomplished in their life.

I want to pursue journalism so that I can continue what I’m doing in the community. By working in the media, I’ll be able to reach more people than I can right now.

By the time Fenny was 10 years old, she had come close to death more than once.

One time, she thought her time had really come.

She was feverish, shivering and too weak to walk. “I was very sick,” Fenny (pictured above) says. “That’s when mummy carried me to the ChildFund office to get tested.”

A trained ChildFund Zambia volunteer diagnosed Fenny with malaria and referred her to the local health clinic for urgent treatment.

On the way to clinic, it started pouring down with rain, and Fenny started to lose hope.

“We got soaked,” Fenny says. “I thought then that my time had come to die, but mummy said whether we are soaked or not, we are going to the clinic.”

Upon seeing Fenny’s condition, the long line of people waiting at the clinic let Fenny and her mother Gertrude pass.

Fenny was given anti-malarial medication and after days of rest, she eventually recovered.

“It was a day I’ll never forget,” Fenny, now 12, says. “I thought the time had come for me to die, but within the shortest period of time I was back to normal.”

A deadly disease

Gertrude says her whole family, including Fenny – the second youngest of six children – suffered from malaria multiple times a year.

Their home in rural Zambia is close to a small river and surrounded by wild grassland, a prime breeding ground for malaria-infected mosquitoes, especially during the wet season.

There is nowhere else for the family to go; they have lived here for most of their lives and rely on a small piece of land nearby where they grow vegetables such as tomatoes and okra to earn an income.