Voices

The gift of a goat leads a girl to the road less traveled

Many young women in rural Zambia face difficult futures, but Modester is one of the top students! With an education, her dreams are about to come true.

Many young women in rural Africa face difficult futures: child marriage, young motherhood, limited education, and meager livings.

But not Modester.

At 18, Modester is one of the top students in all of Zambia! She’s headed for university and whatever big dream she may have in mind. Find out what made the difference for her.

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When I think of Modester, a girl I met in Sinazongwe, Zambia in the spring of this year, I imagine a girl — her head held high, shoulders back, standing where the dirt road branches into a Y.

Down one path: a life of child marriage, young motherhood, lack of education, maybe hunger, and more than likely physical labor trying to eke out a meager living.

It’s a common path trod by many young women in rural Africa.

On the other side, it’s a road less traveled. It includes post-elementary education, higher education, plenty of healthy food, and a career.

Modester stands at that Y, with one foot on the path less taken. She’s completed her elementary and secondary education. She just took her university-level exams, and the results were astounding: She’s one of the top students in all of Zambia!

That’s an extraordinary accomplishment for a girl from a small, rural community. And it all started with the gift of a goat.

Modester—and one of her baby goats—helps her cousin Evelyn with school work. (Photo: ©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Modester — and one of her baby goats — helps her cousin Evelyn with school work. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Hardship hounded Modester before she was even born. Her birth father denied his responsibility for her. So her mother, Saviour, and her grandmother raised her. The family barely survived.

Modester watched other children in the village having three meals a day while sometimes she went without.

Then her mother married and her new husband didn’t want to accept a child from a previous relationship. He told Saviour that he’d married her, but not her daughter.

Saviour told World Vision’s community development worker Seth Siamugande, “If I had power, I would swallow my daughter so she is no longer there.”

Seth knew exactly what to do. He took the little girl under his wing. That was 2007. Today, Modester is 18 and still Seth’s favorite.

Seth Siamugande looks over Modester's amazing exam results. (Photo: ©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Seth Siamugande looks over Modester’s amazing exam results. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

In Sinazongwe, World Vision offered a gift of a goat to orphans or especially vulnerable children to help families lift themselves out of poverty. Modester’s family qualified, and when she was in second grade, she received that gift. It didn’t take long for that single goat to reproduce. Her herd expanded to 12 goats.

As the goats multiplied, so did Modester’s hopes.

“Goats gave me hope because I started to dream of who I wanted to be, and I have seen that dream come to pass,” says Modester. She dreams of becoming a nurse because she likes helping others.

Modester sold a few goats at a time, being careful to keep a couple of the animals in reserve for emergencies. Some of the profits went to pay people to work in their fields so the family had enough food to eat. Some went toward clothing for the children in the family. Some paid for her education.

Goats are part of the equation, and child sponsorship is another. Modester appreciates how supportive World Vision has been, especially Seth. They’ve provided for both the family’s physical needs as well as her education. “World Vision staff kept encouraging me to work hard in school and to remain focused,” she says. Seth is always there with advice about things like school and boys and sometimes even a little pocket money.

Modester frequently volunteers in World Vision's Sinazongwe office. (Photo: ©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Modester frequently volunteers in World Vision’s Sinazongwe office. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

The staff also nurtures the spiritual growth of all the children in the area. Seth started a Good News Club and Bible study for the sponsored children when he came to Sinazongwe. Through Seth, Modester learned more about God’s love for her. And her faith grew.

She now knows that she has a father in Heaven who will never abandon her.

Her faith and prayers are being put to the test as she prepares for university. The cost is high, even with the money made from selling goats. She hopes for either a scholarship or other assistance with school fees.

But Modester has faith that God will provide. He’s brought her this far. A university education will bring her closer to her goal of being a nurse — and another mission close to her heart.

“I think when I have enough money I [will] think of helping orphans,” says Modester. “That’s important because I’ve felt what being an orphan is. It’s very hard.”

She’s faced that hardship and met it head-on with determination. That’s why I see her with one foot on that less-worn path. She continues to step out in faith — trusting that God will turn her dream into a reality.


Give a child the gift of hope! Give a goat today.

Share big dreams with a child like Modester and start a relationship this Christmas! Choose a child in Zambia to sponsor here.

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