Among all the children who have been supported over the years by FCTrelief with tuitions as well as school fees, uniforms & shoes, books & pencils, there are always some who stand out, who carry something special and touch our hearts. Some we just connect to in a special way. Sometimes because they are particularly vulnerable, have very challenging living conditions or have no-one to look after them. Most are single or full orphans, pushed around among various family members here and there, others have challenges with a new stepmother or stepfather, who does not want them. We have seen a lot of heart-breaking situations over the years and have to admire how so many of these children accept and manage a difficult home situation - they know no different.
Until they come to FCTrelief and realise here are people and teachers who mean well, who want to help them, who speak into their lives, encourage them and try to help with problems of many kinds, visit the homes to speak to guardians, visit the schools to talk to the teachers there and generally do their best in every way for these children who are born on the shadow side of life. With us they find a second home, people that are reliable, caring and honest, who they can trust to do what they say they will do and who have the children’s welfare at heart. They feel safe on the plot in Linda, can play and be children before and after tuitions, are given good meals, can shower and use a proper toilet and be fully accepted and treated well. All this starts to change these children and we can watch them blossom and grow into fine young people. It is a privilege to help them.
Photo by Seth Doyle / Unsplash
Shocking state of life
One such teenager came to us to ask for help to continue with his schooling 7 years ago. Alex is a double orphan who lived with his older sister for a while then alone during the last years of his schooling. We met him when we visited his school - Parklands in Chilanga which is quite a distance from Linda and we had given him a bicycle so he could attend tuitions. On this Friday, Alex was in tears because the bicycle had been stolen and he was distraught. In front of us stood a skinny boy, under-nourished and alone, who was afraid he would be in trouble for not being more careful with the bicycle. We spoke to the Head teacher who promised to help and then drove Alex home. The photos show what we found – a hovel - and we were totally shocked to see his living conditions.
His sister gave him a little money for food when she could and we knew he often went hungry. He stood there and showed us his little room, so basic and shabby but he had a dignity that he somehow managed to look after himself, keep clean, go to school and do his homework. He knew that getting an education was the only way to improve his circumstances and get on in life. He touched our hearts then and still does. He never complained, was always polite and friendly – a delightful boy. He was always grateful for any help we gave him – now he had “someone” in FCT who cared about him. He completed his Grade 12 with very good results – admirable, considering his circumstances and we knew he deserved a chance of further education.
A unique opportunity
We introduced him to a couple who were visiting FCTrelief 3 years ago and they spoke for a while. Something about Alex also touched them and they offered to sponsor him for further education – he was thrilled. For a year he went to one of the best boarding schools in Lusaka to do Grade 13, in preparation for University. This meant he could leave his old room and move into the dormitory at David Kaunda College, where food was also provided and he had proper washing facilities etc. He was overjoyed, put on weight and blossomed during this year. He worked hard and had excellent results, so that he qualified for a place to study medicine at the University of Zambia the following year. In the first year there were 3000 students but only 500 would be able to pass into the 2nd year. Alex was determined to be one of those! This was his chance of a lifetime to become a doctor and he was going to take it! Despite Covid Lockdown and Online tuitions for part of the year, he did his best and passed the exams well enough to be among the 500 students to continue studying medicine. He says the course is challenging but fascinating, he cannot believe he is lucky enough to be able to study to become a doctor one day.
When we first met him, no-one could have envisaged that this desperately poor, skinny, shy boy would have a chance of such a different lifestyle and the opportunity to not just go to Uni but to study to become a doctor! He is so very grateful to FCTrelief and his sponsors for helping him and making a dream come true. He is a strong believer and knows that this is his miracle. We are proud of Alex and know he will do well in life and help many people in his lifetime.
This is just one of our success stories and we hope you enjoyed reading it!