William, born on 26 January 1989, is 26 years old. He was raised in Matero (in Lusaka) as a child, but he now calls Chamba Valley home.
William is the youngest of seven children in his family. Early on, his family faced many challenges, one of which was the divorce of his parents when he was still young. From that time, his mother had to care for the family single-handedly, and all the more so when William’s father passed away in 2000. The family struggled to make its way. William, in many ways, imagined that his life would be forever limited by these challenges; that his hopes would always remain hopes rather than reality.
The trajectory of William’s education, and his prospects for the future, has been profoundly impacted by the work of ZOCS.
William’s education path started at Rosamystica Community School, where he completed his primary education. Rosamystica, like more than 500 other community schools around Zambia, receives vital support from ZOCS, including teaching and learning materials, teacher training and income generating activity support.
From the beginning, William stood out as a bright and hardworking child, but also one who faced many obstacles that could have easily overwhelmed him. As such, ZOCS began supporting his education from grade five onwards through bursaries. This support enabled William to complete his primary education at Rosamystica Community School; years 8 and 9 at Matero Boys Basic School; and years 10-12 at Kamwala High School.
Over this time, William excelled, working diligently in the hope that a good education would change his life and the lives of his family members. After completing year 12, William aspired to attend university. Recognizing William’s determination and potential, ZOCS assisted him to successfully apply for a scholarship to attend university in the U.S. Today, William is attending Michigan State University in the U.S., and this year graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.
Asked what he plans for the future, William readily responds that he is wide open to the possibilities. He credits ZOCS for making it possible for him to get an education, and knows well how so many people from a similar background have not had the same opportunities. William wants to plough back, and can see himself working for a community development organization that seeks to make life better for vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
William is still young, but all the same he is inspiring the people around him. His family members, particularly those who are school age, have been encouraged by William’s educational success. They see William and see that there is hope and a reason to keep studying. William has also seen more subtle changes in the way people do things and the way they look at him; the interaction has changed. Young though he is, William has become a leader and an example for other people to follow. People are encouraged by William to work harder and do more.
William’s journey has only begun. He has, however, already learned much. His advice to children and young people in Zambia is that:
The world isn’t all smooth. There are always challenges, whoever and wherever you are in life. Whatever situation you find yourself in, always know what you want and which direction you want to go. You might be educated or not, but that does not have to mean you are stuck. Use what skills, knowledge and determination you have. Figure out what you want and pursue it with all your strength. Study, at whatever level, is important. Keep hope that it will help you now or sometime in the future. Sometimes you must be patient; study will ultimately pay off. Outcomes are not immediate, but study is worth the effort and the investment!