As I was going to drop my daughter off to day care early in the morning a few weeks ago, I found a girl sitting outside our compound by the main road. This is our family home not Voices Awake and it is in a different district roughly an hour and 30 minutes away from Voices Awake. I thought she was just resting from whatever journey she was on presumably a vegetable vendor making rounds in the residential homes, or maybe waiting for someone and I decided not to disturb her. I went on to drop my daughter and run some errands, on my way back home, I found her still sitting there. I could sense some hopelessness in her and I decided to talk to her. I later learnt that she had nowhere to go as she had just been evicted from the house someone was renting for her. She is in grade 11 and was being supported by a lady who couldn't anymore due to some financial hiccups she was facing. Her mother died giving birth to her and she was taken into an orphanage that let her go over discipline issues some years ago and has been on her own since then. She had been knocking on people's doors asking for a job and food but wasn't successful that's why she just decided to sit on my door and rest. I knew I couldn't just let her go, a young girl with no roof over her head. I asked to communicate with the lady who had been supporting her before and did a whole lot of background checks and then eventually took her into our Voices Awake Girls home.
These kind of situations are not uncommon for me but they still catch me off-guard. I was just in contact with a girl in college this morning who is being expelled over her failure to pay $800 tuition for this semester and yet she has only two more semesters to go and I can't do anything about it. These are overwhelming situations to experience early on in the year yet still not unexpected. They are also a reminder that for me a new year isn't really a new beginning but a continuation on the path I have chosen.
"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can install in us." Hal Borland.
Remember last December, we wanted to give the girls their dream Christmas, you helped me to do it and it was so beautiful. They sang, danced, ate, got new clothes and blankets each. They haven't stopped talking about it and some of them said,
"My Christmas was very good, I thank Voices Awake for the gift of new clothes and a blanket. I wore my new clothes on both Christmas and New year. I also have a blanket of my own because I was sharing with my siblings an old one. Thanks to everyone who donated, may God bless you." Sellina, grade 6.
"My Christmas went on very well. I was so excited to have new clothes on Christmas which I would not have had if not for Voices Awake. When I got home with my blanket, my mother was very happy and she is planning to come say "thank you" herself on my behalf. I share my blanket with my little sister, I am not fearing the cold this year. I am grateful for everyone who helped and I pray that I will be able to help other people in the future like I am being helped." Hopeness, grade 6.
"I was happy this Christmas because I ate food that's rare to find, I received some clothes and a blanket. We also danced a lot. God should bless Voices Awake and all the people that helped us to have an amazing Christmas party and may we please have another one this year. God bless you and don't stop helping others and may God help you to help more people." Bridgette, grade 6.
"I am so happy that I now have a dress to wear to church. I want to thank all the Voices Awake staff for all that they do for us. God should continue blessing you." Sarah, grade 7.
"My mother did not have money to buy me new clothes or good food for Christmas and I am so happy Voices Awake provided both. May God bless everyone who made this possible."Madalo, grade 7.
"I am so grateful for the blanket I got on Christmas, I never expected that. I didn't have one, I was only using an old bedsheet. I thank God that I am now able to sleep comfortably. May God bless everyone who made this possible."Deborah, grade 7.
I agree with these blessings showered upon you. Most times it is the little things that add up to becoming big things that are life transforming. I appreciate that as I press on, on this journey, I am not alone, I have you. Voices Awake keeps growing and evolving. We now have more staff members (11), we are reaching out to more kids, 100 in the mentorship program, 150 in the feeding program, 10 permanently living in the girls home and 10 more who stay there during school breaks, we are tutoring 70 kids after school, working on establishing an animal farming program and a lot of crop production for food. We always need help that's why we appreciate your help. I hope the girls and I are able to enrich your life in this new year the same way you impact ours tremendously.
Vanessa Mwangala Zainga. (ED)
Watch our Christmas highlights here.