I am no Bill Gates but my philanthropic work speaks for itself-Felistas Kasabila (Zambia)

My heart aches at the thought of any kid who is unable to attend school as a result of poverty. I believe that at least if they write can their own names, there is a glimmer of hope in their life. All this compassion emanates from my childhood, as I grew up as an orphan, with little confidence in my capabilities.  I had to plead and obey whatever was required of me by my guardians. After all, I felt they were doing me a favour. I felt it was my responsibility to repay them for my upbringing to ensure that other vulnerable children got the opportunity to education through my good deeds.

Being enrolled in the SAfAIDS Young People Leadership Academy in 2013 opened new avenues for me.  Hearing stories from other young people who were part of the training made me to start discovering myself. The low self-esteem that was entrenched in me started dissipating. I was opened to the idea of looking for a job to fund my tertiary education. I am proud to say I did exactly that and completed a diploma in Social Work in 2016.  My sheer determination which was inculcated in me by SAfAIDS pushed me to sail through.

I firmly believe that I was able to secure a part time job as a site coordinator because of the experience and skills I got from the SAfAIDS YPLA training. We were enrolled as 19 Zambians among other young people from Lesotho, Malawi and Zimbabwe. After the training, we were assigned to start small business, leading us to divide ourselves into three groups. In our group, we embarked on selling men’s clothes and handbags, which we imported from Namibia. It worked well initially until we parted ways due to different reasons. This did not deter me as I was confident that even on my own, l will sail through.

Being a site coordinator meant that I work in rural areas. This is when I exposed to the fact that even 12-year-olds cannot write their own names. This pained me and pushed me to find ways of making a difference in these kids’ lives. I opened Kazoe pre-school, which currently has an enrolment of 47 students who are learning for free. The money I was getting as a gratuity was paying the cleaner and two teachers. My church elders supported my idea and  offered me a block which we were now using as a class. I only had to build a toilet to complement the effort.

I then got a voluntary work with Zambia Women Instititute of Leadership. This was exciting for me as it was my area of expertise. We were using sports to get to the community on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. I also got an opportunity to represent Zambia in Sweden on forum discussions on issues of sexuality. We came fourth and for me this was no mean achievement.

I recently got a job with Marie Stopes Zambia, where I am working as a DREAMS Centre Manager. I applaud SAfAIDS, which empowered me with leadership skills and knowledge on Sexual Reproductive Health. I am happy that l am now working with adolescent girls and young women because empowering young girls is also my dream and passion. Nothing will deter me; I am now pursuing a degree in Adult Education. And I am not stopping!

We should never give up in life, we have unique talents, we need to discover ourselves and get that potential within us.

 

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