In Zambia, the norm for secondary schooling is to go to a school that is away from where your home is and attend as a boarder. So, the start of a new term for secondary school students involves packing up the required belongings and travelling a distance. For the older young people who live at the Chisomo shelter, it is just the same. For them also, pursuing secondary education entails going away to school where they can immerse themselves in their studies, and as you can see from the photos, this is an experience that they really value and enjoy.
All of these young people have, at some point in their childhood, ended up being forced to leave home and live on the streets of Lusaka. That is how they came to be linked to Chisomo, which is an organisation that provides shelter and support for street kids in the capital of Zambia. Returning home isn’t an option for any of them, for a range of reasons and so instead their home now is at the Chisomo shelter where they live with their ‘foster family’ of Mr and Mrs Zulu (Chisomo staff) and other ex-street kids.
Despite their troubled backgrounds, these youngsters are really making good, and are determined to move onwards and upwards, to get a good education which will open doors that they might never have dreamed possible a few years back when in the midst of their personal turmoils.
NB: Some might ask why the boarding experience – surely you can learn just as well at a local school. The thinking is (and there is lots of anecdotal backing to this) that the young people can concentrate on their studies more when they are away from home, with no distractions in the form of chores, looking after younger siblings, getting a job on the side etc. They also don’t have to waste time walking up to an hour each way to get to their nearest school, and for the girls, it is safer for them not to have to walk long distances to get to and from school.