Once at risk of dropping out of school, today Tisiyenji is an activist and entrepreneur, a coordinator of CAMFED Learner Guides, and a mentor to vulnerable girls.
The first born of the family, Tisiyenji was raised in a household of four children in Kasama district, Zambia. Tragically her father, the breadwinner of the family, passed away when she was fourteen years old, leaving them unable to pay for her school going costs.
Tisiyenji was at the verge of dropping out of school when CAMFED stepped in. She was provided with essentials including school fees, uniform, shoes, stationery and books, as well as specialist support from a Teacher Mentor. With continuing support, Tisiyenji completed secondary school and went on to higher education. She now holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Zambia.
I am the very first female in the family to graduate from university. Getting that chance to complete my education made me realize that the sky is not the limit – it’s just a stepping stone.
In 2013, Tisiyenji joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA) – the network of female leaders educated with CAMFED support. These like-minded young women help to address rural isolation and provide a platform for stepping up for others. Greatly inspired by the CAMFED Association leader and their values, Tisiyenji saw the need to be an example to the young girls in her community.
Tisiyenji has been elected by her peers to leadership positions within the CAMFED Association. She served as the Secretary for the CAMA Lusaka chapter while she was at university, and was elected as the Chairperson of the Association in Kasama District in December 2019. In that role she meets with the other members, supports their activities, and monitors their businesses.
Tisiyenji believes in focusing her energy and talents on making a lasting difference. She is a strong advocate for the importance of girls’ education, and against child marriages, using every opportunity – including local radio shows and district events – to speak about child protection and girls’ right to quality education.
Like many of her peers in the CAMFED Association, Tisiyenji has built entrepreneurial skills which help her to earn an income to support her future goals. She owns a home-based bakery, and with her profits she helps sustain her family’s livelihood. She also runs a shop that sells everyday essentials, and provides mobile money services. The reach of her philanthropy is broad; her income helps her support her mother, her sister, and two other dependents with essentials like school fees, food and sanitary products. She also reaches out to other girls in her community.
Through my education I learned that you don’t need to sit at home and wait for a job to come to you. You need to create opportunities for yourself. I am now a role model to my family and community, because I’ve gone that extra mile to bring in money for the whole family. My business started making fritters, and it’s just kept growing.
Tisiyenji is also helping to coordinate the efforts of CAMFED Association Learner Guides and Transition Guides in her District, who support girls’ learning and confidence-building in school, as well as helping young women to transition to secure livelihoods and leadership after graduating.
Her long-term goal is to save funds and partner with other CAMFED Association educationists to open a school that will provide easier access to education for children in her community.
I want to become a teacher because I want to give children that hope. I have been through what many of them are going through, and I believe that anyone can make it. I have gone back home to bring change to my community, and I am joining with other CAMA teachers, tutoring children in my community, to help them improve their grades, so that they can graduate and help more girls too.