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Katongo

Secondary Scholar, Zambia

A meeting of Mother Support Group and Camfed representatives at Jessey’s school

Katongo leaves her aunt’s house well before sunrise to begin her 90-minute walk to school in Chinsali, Zambia. Despite the long walk, it’s a journey she looks forward to every day.

She knows when she arrives she has a place in the classroom – the same classroom she was barred from two years ago because her school fees were unpaid. When the Head Teacher noticed her all alone with no one caring for her, she was put on the list to request scholarship assistance from CAMFED.

CAMFED’s scholarships include more than just school fees. CAMFED provides uniforms, shoes, stationery, books, sanitary protection, and boarding costs if their long or insecure journey to school might stop them from attending.

As part of the scholarship package, CAMFED-trained Teacher Mentors provide psycho-social counseling to children to keep them in school and help them overcome challenges. Girls are also sent to partner schools in groups to support each other.

In addition to the school support she receives, Katongo also benefits from the encouragement and mentoring provided by CAMFED-trained Teacher Mentors and volunteers. Her favorite subject is math, which is useful when she helps her aunt sell bananas.

Katongo never knew her parents, having lost both of them when she was an infant. However, she knows neither of them finished Grade 1, and the aunt who has raised her left school after Grade 6. Many of Katongo’s friends don’t attend school, and some are already married and pregnant. She will be the first in her entire family to finish school. When she thinks of this, “it makes me so happy, I want to jump!”

My dream is to become a nurse – I want to help people

But Katongo’s story doesn’t end there. Just as Katongo completes her secondary education, she will join the CAMFED Association (CAMA) – the network of female leaders educated with CAMFED support, who will support Katonga on her journey to independence.

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