“I am Anthoni. I was born and I grew up in Chikopelo village. I am the fourth of eight children born of the same parents, however, my father was widowed twice, and my mother was his third wife.
My father had one child with his first wife, but he also died, and I don’t know anything about him or how and when he died. I knew my other three older siblings from my father’s second wife, all of them are married and have their own families now, they are living in Chikopelo too.
From my father and mother, my three older sisters who were born ahead of me, the older two are already married and the third died. My younger brother, Emanueli, who was born after me, ran away from our home and I don’t know what happened to him after that. He ran away because at home, we have nothing, and we are very poor.
The two younger ones are at home with my father because my mother left us last year, in September 2022. She went to live with another man.”
“When I was in grade one, I stopped going to school for some months because I was sick, I did not go to the hospital, my parents just took care of me at home. Once I was better I could not continue and finish my studies anymore because I missed many days at school.
At that time, I also could not read yet. Then the next year I repeated in grade one. When I was in grade two, again I had to repeat because many times I was chased away from school by my teacher because I don’t have school uniform, and shoes and exercise books. One of my friends who finished grade seven, gave to me his uniform and shoes so after that I could start again. My father made and sold some charcoal so that he could buy for me and my younger brother our exercise books. Until I finished grade seven, I only had this pair of uniform.
Our school in the village is very far, I used to walk two hours to arrive at school every day. I woke up at five in the morning and start my journey to arrive at school at quarter past seven.
Even at school I went hungry many times, I could eat only when I go back home. The parents of students who can contribute corn flour to the school, their children can receive porridge, but those who cannot, like my parents, we just drink water. Another challenge that I had experienced is the lack of food at home. This is also the reason why my younger brother ran away.”
“Many times, we experienced not taking any food for two days until my father could sell some charcoal and with the money he got from it, he could buy food for us. My father is already 83 years old, but he is still working hard for us. I am very grateful to my father because he was able to make charcoal and sell it so that he could make half of the money for my transportation to come here in the Sisters of Mary School. The other half of the transportation was given by the parent of one of my companions who took pity on me. He is William, from St. Aloysius family.”
“Here in the Sisters of Mary I am very happy, I like very much the environment and the sisters. When I arrived here the sisters welcomed us joyfully, but I was thinking of my father because now he is alone. At home nobody will fetch water for him anymore until my younger brother comes back from school. Before I rode in the bus to come here, my father emphasized to me that I have to study very hard here.