Everyday, millions of marginalized children go against all odds by managing to get to school and study. In their daily struggles for an education, these children fight tooth and nail for their right to education no matter what. The Other Side Foundation School has always advocated for this right knowing that the underprivileged have difficulties accessing free education. This is because it understands that children living in crisis situations want the chance to go to school knowing that education is their safety valve for a better future. However, there are many challenges faced by a vulnerable child that may result in not being able to attend school.
The story of eleven year old Winiefridah Mwamba is a sure indication that no barriers can prevent her from not attaining her education. Winiefridah started Grade 1 at TOSF school in 2017. Coming from a questionable background and her siblings had the opportunity to be enrolled at this school. Like Winiefridah, all her brothers and sisters who were schooled here had worked hard and finished primary education at this school to go to high school with good grades. Since grade one (now she is in grade five) Winfridah has been scoring high marks retaining the 1st position in class. She is known to be very hard working and never abscond classes. But Winfridah’s absence during the final term exams in December 2021 had us teachers, puzzled!
Her absence, made her teacher concerned and when he inquired, it was discovered that the girl was critically ill and was hospitalized at a known government hospital. Everyone was praying for her quick recovery. In order to move on to the next grade, she knew she had to sit for her final term exams in December 2021 but her critical condition was the obstacle she faced. Lo and behold, we saw Winiefridah carried to school on her sister’s back as Winiefridah was too weak to walk. She insisted on coming to school to write her final term exams in December 2021. All the teachers were shocked whilst sympathizing with her. All could tell that the child was in pain but she insisted on writing. She joined her classmates writing the exams whilst having physical difficulties due to her failing health. When checked, the girl had really done well in answering the questions during the exams and finished before everyone else did. Out of 52 learners in Grade 5 from 2 sessions, in her condition, Winiefridah had the second highest position in Grade 5 scoring 581 out of 700 marks. Her results makes us proud to have such a focused pupil in our school. The passion she has for school is really amazing; her academic results speaks a thousand words! This is what she had to say, paraphrased, “it is important to find one’s passion” but the most touching part she mentioned was, “actively passion does not find you or walk in through the door to where you are but one must understand her area of interest and invest her or his time and emotions into it to real make it work, that is why, I had to write my exams regardless of this illness.” Translated version.
I now understand that, indeed the wind has a special touch that it brings in its wake, sometimes laughter and at other times great displeasure; and life no matter how you define it, is as unique as the colors it pours into our world. It holds a cloud full of uncertainties which a lot of time you can’t help but wait to see the tune it wants to play and try to see if you can match its rhythm. Winiefridah has danced to the rhythm of life against all odds and hurdles. At such a tender young age she has shown life that she can stand tall withstanding any storm or barrier.
Her perseverance and determination has set a very good example for the rest of the students and everyone has understood that education has to be their top priority. Upskilling and lifelong learning is key to leading a meaningful life amidst all challenges we may face in life.
In TOSF we often say he/she is “A child like any other” and deserves to get an education, eat nutritious food, and be cared for. We strive to ensure that some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved at TOSF school:
-Achieve Universal Primary Education
-Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
-Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women