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Christopher Mbao tells his sponsors about his life 
 
 
Kids in Zambia love school and fully understand that education is their only way out of poverty.  However once they leave primary level many drop out of school as it is at this point that fees must be paid and proper shoes, uniform and equipment such as maths sets must be bought.  Each year Project Luangwa arranges school sponsorship for well over 100 pupils but is it worth it and what do the kids think?
I think the best person to answer that is a young man who came to us for help in 2011. This is an extract of a letter he wrote to his sponsor in 2015: 
 
. . . . . . My heart is full of joy and happiness for your support. I am grateful for it is very difficult here in the Luangwa Valley to find money to go to school. Like the area where I am coming from very few are educated due to lack of financial support. I am from Malama area, typical area where vehicles during the rainy season cannot go there, the area with only one basic school.
 
My life became even so hard in grade 8 and 9 because I had no one to support me to go to school or pay my school fees. I have been brought up by my mother only. My father left home when I was a young boy and he never came back. Since from that time when he left home until now he has never sent any message to us so I do not know whether he is dead or alive.
 
So my mother could not afford to pay my school fees and that was K30 per term. The head teacher understood the situation which I was in that he allowed me to be learning without paying any money. My mother really appreciated him for what he did. Though I was allowed I had no school uniform. My friends elder brother is the one who gave me his uniform for he left school after failing his grade 9 examination.  With his help of a uniform I went to school but I had no shoes.  I could go to school in tropical (flip-flops) and I was the only one putting on tropical when going to school but I did not mind, all that I wanted was an education.
 
From home to school is 10km and I could walk everyday going to school. On my way to school I found elephants mainly along the road. At times they could chase me and get back home. Because of this I went into weekly boarding and there it was self-catering.  But sometimes finding food could be a problem and all that I did was to start fishing. On the weekend I could go to the Luangwa river and spend two nights there with the fishermen catching fish. Then I used to exchange the fish with mealie-meal and maize and use some as relish. I could leave some at home too so that they exchange for maize too. So I can simply say I was a fisherboy.
 
Even where to sleep was a problem but I did not care. The clothes which I had I was just being given by friends who saw my poverty. However I did not lose hope and concentration at school though I was going through all these challenges. I always got first in class. And teachers encouraged me to work hard and not listen to the naysayers.
 

And now I am living a better life at school. I see things as easy and simple and my life has really changed. This is because education changes the lives of people by knowing a lot of things and the knowledge which the teachers impact into us. I have achieved a lot of things at school and am well known by all the teachers. I have been getting awards several times for being the highest grades among all and have the certificate for achieving six points at the end of grade 11.  

This is the great opportunity which I have found through you. Without your support there is nothing I can do. And I am a happy person for I am in the last grade and I am finishing this year. Thank you very much. My happiness will never end.  

Christopher’s home is in a very remote area of the Luangwa Valley. It is unusual for a teacher to allow a pupil to attend without paying fees and ‘boarding’ meant sleeping in abandoned buildings or classrooms and finding food for himself.  Once he qualified to senior secondary level (grade 10) he had to attend a large secondary school and that is when he came to us for help.   He has now completed school and he in 2016 has applied to the University of Zambia to study medicine. 

Christopher is certainly well known to his classmates and teachers – they all tell tales of how he encourages his peers and helps younger pupils who are struggling to understand some of their lessons. 

 

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