Each morning, Mary’s greatest worry was to walk 15 kilometers to and from her school in the Chipapa community of Zambia’s Chilanga district.
As a result of the long distance, Mary, the third child in a family of five, started her morning at as early as 3:00 a.m. to help with some household chores. By 4:00 a.m., she’d begin her walk, so she wouldn’t be late for classes which start at 7:00.
She is determined to brighten her future through education.
“I have not given up hoping that one day I may become a police office and help maintain the peace in our country,” Mary says.
Dangers on the road to get to school
Mary’s walks alone in the thorny bushes of Chipapa at early hours posed a high risk to her well-being.
“Sometimes I walk alone early in the morning to get to school, and at times when we knock off from school because where I come from is quite far compared to where most of my friends who use the same route come from,” she explains. “Sometimes [it’s] my friends who escort me.”
“I always walk with fear — my greatest fear has been that I may be raped or get killed one day because of walking alone and often times at awkward hours,” the visibly concerned girl says.
Now in eighth grade, Mary braves the cold, heat, and all forms of weather to walk to school.
“I used to go through a lot of challenges because of having to walk such a long distance every day from the time when I was in Grade 6. I … fall sick and struggle to walk,” Mary says sadly, “and at times I felt discouraged whenever I thought of the distance, and decide to stay away from school.”
“Cycling to my bright future”
But a new chapter of Mary’s school journey has just begun, thanks to gift-in-kind donations from World Vision of a bicycle.
“I could not believe it when my name was called to be one of the recipients of the bicycles donated by World Vision to our school. I could not hold my tears and realized God hears our prayers and sees our pain,” Mary says.
With the gift of the bicycle, Mary’s life has changed.
“In the past, I did not have enough time to study because I always reached home very late and tired; at the same time [I] had to help my mother with house chores. But ever since I received the bicycle, I get home on time and I have enough time to help Mum with work and study,” she says.
Mary says apart from going to school, the bicycle is also useful when she’s unwell because it is used to take her to the hospital for treatment.
“I am grateful to the people who thought of me; this bicycle is going to take me a long way,” she says. “Every time I am cycling to school, I feel like I am cycling to my bright future.”