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Tisiyenji

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 would meet with the other members, supports their activities, and monitor their businesses.

Tisi giving a speech to Prince Harry

Tisi giving a speech to Prince Harry and other young leaders at a Queen’s Commonwealth Trust event in Lusaka in 2018. (Photo: CAMFED/Anke Adams) Read Tisiyenji’ and Fatima’s speech to Prince Harry in Zambia

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.

 

Play videoImage

Celebrating The Duchess of Suffolk and the #InspiredByMeghan Fundraiser initiated by her champions for CAMFED

In 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, CAMFED and Luminary Bakery united two passionate bakers virtually – Tisiyenji in Zambia and Monica in the UK – to talk about their birthday cakes in honor of Meghan’s birthday. This was the day the global “Sussex Squad” launched a fundraiser for CAMFED under the #InspiredByMeghan hashtag, which was later matched by Harry and Meghan. Both Tisiyenji and Monica overcame extremely challenging backgrounds and are now role models for other girls and women in their communities.

Read video transcript

Tisiyenji has been instrumental in coordinating the efforts of CAMFED Association Learner Guides and Transition Guides at district level. These young women 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 CAMFED Association teachers, tutoring children in my community, to help them improve their grades, so that they can graduate and help more girls too.

Blogs and more from Tisiyenji

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BlogZambia

“We heard your daughter on the radio!” Young women leading coronavirus action in rural Zambia

With coronavirus causing schools to close, this may be the fate of millions more girls. But we are not standing by helplessly. We are taking action.

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Tisiyenji's interview in the UK's Metro newspaper

May 20, 2020

Natalie Morris’ exclusive in the UK’s Metro newspaper introduces Tisiyenji and other young women in the CAMFED Association in Zambia, who are dispelling myths about COVID-19 and volunteering their time to keep girls safe and learning during the global pandemic.

News_feature_-_Lynette_CAMA_ZIM

NewsGlobal

BBC World Service features CAMFED Association COVID activism

Alongside her peers from Zimbabwe and Ghana, Tisiyenji spoke on the BBC’s ‘Focus on Africa’ program about how she is helping marginalized girls and families cope under lockdown, in a context where many lack access to running water, electricity, the internet, the means to pivot small businesses and the safety structure offered by schools.

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