Donate

Naomi

CAMFED Association member, Zambia

Five of the first CAMFED Learner Guides in Zambia

Naomi is one of the first CAMFED Learner Guides to be trained in Zambia. She is a respected leader in her community, paving the way for younger students to follow. Her story could have been very different. After her father died when she was just a few months old, Naomi’s mother was left to raise her new baby alone. Their daily lives were characterized by poverty and hardship.  

Naomi’s mother did her best to support her daughter with food, clothes, and materials to attend school, but things were not easy. By the time Naomi reached secondary school, where families have to raise school fees on top of the other essentials, Naomi feared her education would be over. It was then that CAMFED stepped in with the necessary financial and psycho-social support to allow Naomi to complete her education.

When I was in Grade 8, I lost hope, I didn’t think I would finish Grade 12. But through CAMFED I received opportunity. Now CAMFED is helping other people through educating me.

After school, Naomi joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA); the pan-African network of women leaders educated with CAMFED support. Soon after, she began training to become a Learner Guide. CAMFED Learner Guides return to their local schools to deliver a life skills and wellbeing curriculum (called My Better World), developed with young people in Africa. Naomi leads sessions that improve students’ confidence, resilience, self-reflection, and autonomy, as well as their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and encourages children to become more aware of their rights, responsibilities, and values. As a Learner Guide, she is a ‘big sister’ and relatable role model, uniquely placed to protect children, particularly girls, in her community from being pushed out of school by their circumstances, and having to enter into early marriage and child-bearing.

CAMFED Association members know what it is like to be vulnerable to child marriage. With their fierce determination, their deep-felt empathy, their unwavering commitment to securing every girl’s right to education, and the respect they have garnered in their communities, CAMFED’s Learner Guides have reached children that others – including local authorities and school staff – could not.

 

During school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Naomi delivered sessions of My Better World life-skills guide to learners via local radio.

Five of the first CAMFED Learner Guides in Zambia

Naomi (right) with some of her fellow CAMFED Association members and Learner Guides. (Photo: CAMFED/Anke Adams)

The teachers in the school where I go, they are very good, they are impressed with me and they love the program. The learners love it too!

Naomi is proud of the progress made by her learners, seeing them become more confident and resilient through her mentoring and guidance. With the skills she has learnt in her role, Naomi feels better equipped to tackle community issues.

I am the sort of person who does not give up on something I start, especially things that I believe I can achieve.

Naomi shared a story of a girl in her community who became pregnant, and, not having family support, felt there was no option but to drop out of school. Naomi and her parents took the girl in and encouraged her to remain in education. Each afternoon, Naomi coached her through her schoolwork, particularly in English and Mathematics, where she had fallen behind. She saved up to buy stationery so that the girl could return to school.

I am passionate about supporting girls and young people to stay in school and reach their potential.

In training as a Learner Guide, Naomi could work towards a bespoke vocational (BTEC) qualification developed in partnership with leading education company Pearson, designed to support vulnerable children and young people. This will help Naomi to achieve her goal of becoming a teacher, by strengthening her application to teacher training college.

I really want to become a teacher because I know a teacher is the start. For someone to become a doctor, a president, a nurse, they all pass through a teacher. A teacher has a very good heart so they can help children to reach their goals.

Naomi has also gained further experience of working with young people by training as a CAMFED Transition Guide, to support school graduates progress to employment, entrepreneurship or further education and training. Her qualities as a leader are coming into their own — recently her peers elected her as the CAMFED Association District Chairperson.

Through CAMFED’s support, young women can stand on their own as leaders.

Naomi is frequently invited by local traditional leaders and school based committees to speak publicly on issues concerning the wellbeing of youth and girls. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she stepped up with other CAMFED Association Guides to reach out to out-of-school children, who, in rural communities like Naomi’s, did not have access to online learning. To bridge the gap, Naomi travelled by bicycle to visit learners in neighboring villages to help them study, and presented My Better World sessions on local radio. These interactive call and answer sessions reached many more children and teenagers with vital health and wellbeing information.

Parents in the community are happy that they have me as the testimony of education. They see where I am now and they want their children to be educated. They say I am a role model and come to me with their problems.

The radio sessions proved an invaluable link between rural communities when travel restrictions were implemented. After hearing her on the radio, several school graduates phoned in and Naomi connected them with fellow CAMFED Association members so they could access additional resources. Furthermore, as a trusted voice in the community, Naomi’s words and actions were vital to reassure parents and children that schools would reopen and help them stay on track to complete their education.

Through the Learner Guide program, Naomi gained access to financial training and an interest-free loan to start a home furnishing business, selling duvets, pillows and curtains. With the profits she is able to sustain both her family and other children in her community, paying forward the benefits of her education and keeping children safe from marriage.

I am supporting five children with the profits from my business. I provide them with school uniforms, shoes, stationery, books, pens, and pencils. I completed school and I want others to do the same!

It’s not only the financial support that CAMFED Association members like Naomi provide that make a huge difference to girls who are at risk of dropping out or have dropped out already. Their mentoring, advice, and ability to connect vulnerable children with support networks is invaluable. Naomi speaks of a girl from a nearby community who was pushed out of school due to poverty, had to get married and became pregnant. When the girl saw Naomi delivering My Better World outreach sessions in the community, she was intrigued and asked Naomi about her volunteer work. Naomi befriended her and discussed with her the option of organizing childcare and returning to school. With Naomi’s advice and encouragement, the girl was able to return to school in her district and now is doing well. They are still in touch today.

I said, ‘You have the right to go back to school,’ and explained the re-entry policy that the Zambian government has introduced. So after a girl delivers her baby, she should go back to school.

Naomi is looking forward to her future and continues to put her energy and passion into keeping more girls in education.

With international donor partners coming behind the Learner Guide Program, this is just the beginning of our efforts to scale it up across sub-Saharan Africa. It has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of students, driving up school attendance and performance, while simultaneously equipping young women like Naomi with invaluable leadership skills.

Thank you to our generous recent donors

Together we are breaking the cycle of poverty

Donate

SIMON WAYNE £430

VISHAL KUMAR $100

Erica Choi $50

Urszula Wozniacka €20

Elisabeth Curtis $100

Richard Fosse €25

Hannah Jardine £157

Getruda Amos $10

Jan Garrill £230

Ellen Yount $150

Takudzwa Chakauya Mukwenha $10

Shaun O'Leary £30

Olivia Smith $20

Janet E Alexander $72

Bella Stoehr $700