Jessey is 15 years old, and is one of six children in her family. She is in Standard 7 at her village’s primary school. Jessey lives with both parents who depend on farming to provide for the family. Despite their hard work, Jessey’s parents could not manage to buy her the school uniform, exercise books and pens she needed for school. For these reasons, she was absent from school regularly.
These challenges, along with the long daily walk of 7 kilometers in bare feet, led Jessey to lose her motivation to go to school. She would leave home as early as 6 a.m. after doing garden work and completing some household chores. She normally arrives at school without breakfast, but eats lunch at school. Sometimes, when things are well at home, she and her family eat a supper comprised of nsima (the staple food made of maize) and vegetables.
Jessey’s interest in her education grew when the School Based Committee at her school selected her as one of the Safety Net Fund beneficiaries in 2011. Through this support, she was provided with a school uniform and other assistance.
“This came to me as a miracle because I never thought that somebody could provide me with a uniform,” Jessey said. “I could not wait to come to school the following day, and stay comfortably in class without being sent back home by the teacher for not wearing a school uniform.”
Jessey was also excited that CAMFED was supporting the school feeding program at her school. The local Mother Support Group coordinates the preparation of porridge for students, and the traditional village chief also encourages community members to take part in the preparation of food for the school.
Jessey’s school is in rural Machinga, a southern district of Malawi
A meeting of Mother Support Group and CAMFED representatives at Jessey’s school
"I was very excited to learn that CAMFED will support the school feeding program because I knew that I will be able to fully concentrate in class since I could take my porridge from school."
At school, Jessey enjoys Mathematics, English and Life Skills because they are taught by her favorite teacher, who also offers her support at home.
With the ambition to become a journalist, Jessey works hard at school despite the other challenges she still faces in life. She struggles to read at home because her parents cannot afford to buy candles for studies at night. Food at home is also a problem because the food they harvest from their garden is not enough to provide for the family all year round. Despite all of these challenges, Jessey remains optimistic and hopeful about her future.
“I am sure I will achieve my goal because I know that somebody somewhere thinks and cares about my future. I was moved by Ann Cotton’s speech because she showed us that despite all our problems we have potential to stand out and make it big in the society. Her smile gave me an assurance that all is possible only if I put in my best efforts,” said Jessey, who in her free time likes knitting.