I got the chance to talk to three shy, sweet and incredibly smart young orphans today. The first two were 12-year-old twin sisters Anangelesi and Anagilenti. The girls ranked 10th and 14th at the public school they attend. The orphan education program pays for school fees for both of them.
Their family met us with cold soda and warm greetings. Their older brother lived in a house nearby and was a major source of support for the children. It was immediately clear that they were a part of a large community. Neighbors surrounded the house and continued to emerge up until we left. They all gathered around to hear about the twins’ success.
Anangelesi and Anagilenti talked about how much they love school. They both dream of going on to become teachers. But, they struggle with a lot of household responsibilities that distract from their studies, like gathering water, cooking and cleaning. It is a difficult balance for them, but knowing they have the support of their sponsors behind them motivates them.
Then we visited Pius, a highly intelligent 17 year old. He read off his progress report to us: straight A’s. He is currently ranked 2nd in his class out of nearly 200 students. While this is a great feat under normal circumstances, Pius has the additional struggle of learning English. All of his class lectures and textbooks are in English, and when he started at the school he did not know the language at all. His grades show how he excelled in this transition.
Pius talked about how thankful he was to have support from the orphan education program. This funding enabled him to excel and pursue a rich future. He hopes to become a pilot.
Pius also has the support of a large community. His aunt took him in when his parents died, and other community members lent their support. Pius owes a lot of his success to this community, and he hopes to honor them with his academic success. Mr. Venant Mugenyi, who coordinates the orphan education program, said it best: “It takes a village to raise a child.”