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.

Education is one of our strongest tools to end child poverty. Meet Ma Nwe, a former child labourer who is now on the road to success, receiving the education she deserves.

Below we explain Ma Nwe’s experiences as a child labourer and how education has helped her learn the skills to follow her dreams.

 

From child labourer to dressmaker

 

Ma Nwe has a big smile as she admires her new sewing machine. It’s a fine-looking Singer with a shiny gold and black body.

For the 20-year-old dressmaking student (pictured above) the machine represents a new beginning. For the first time in a long time the future looks good. Really good.

A new life, and a new home for her mum and sisters, Ma Nwe imagines. And, one day, a tailor shop for herself.

How different things are now, compared to just a few months ago when she was working seven days a week at a manufacturing factory, checking the quality of drinking flasks, day in, day out.

It had been her job for the past seven years, since she was 13 years old.

 

Leaving school to earn an income

 

At the age of nine, Ma Nwe dropped out of school to help look after her two younger sisters so her parents could go to work. When their father died she was forced to go to work to make up for the family’s loss of income.

She worked 70-hour weeks, earning an equivalent of about US$60, at the manufacturing factory, and only had one day off a month. All her earnings went to her mother to keep the family afloat.

“If I continued working there, I think nothing would have changed in my life because my earnings were just spent on food,” Ma Nwe says.