Meet Samuel. An orphan, Samuel came to live with his grandmother at the age of 2. When he was 10 years old he decided, on his own, to start attending school. Like many children in Zambia it has been a struggle for Samuel to obtain money for school and examination fees, for uniforms, books, pens and pencils. But he has persevered, doing piece work when something like making bricks is available and helping his grandmother grow vegetables so that they have food to eat. At 18 Samuel is in grade 9, a bright student, but held back due to lack of finances. In fact, because he was unable to pay the fees, Samuel will not be able to write his exams this year. Yet, he has not given up. With a sudden smile which lit up his otherwise serious face, Samuel told me of his dream to become a doctor. I wonder if you are joining my tears. If not, perhaps it is because you haven't met this earnest young man and seen the hope and determination in his face. It is indeed heartbreaking to witness the limits placed on these children's access to even a basic education. Just this week I asked a young orphan why her sister wasn't in school that day - the answer - she didn't have an exercise book to write in!
School is back in session this week after a break between terms. I have paid Samuel's school fees ($40.00 Canadian) but he still won't be able to write exams because the deadline for payment of the examination fee ($7.00 Canadian) has passed, and I'll buy some books for orphans.
With love shining through, Samuel's grandmother said - once I cared for him, now he cares for me. Without Samuel, I couldn't survive.
What a remarkable young man!