I’m privileged to be part of an extremely generous church. Over the last five years we’ve partnered with Tearfund and EFZ to change lives in the town of Serenje, Zambia, in areas of HIV support, farming initiatives and access to education.
We’ve also been raising over £100K to build a dormitory for girls who often stay in unsafe accommodation each week in order to attend secondary school there.
As dorm completion approaches, last Tuesday, at my writing group, our inspired leader Jacqui asked us to spend 15 minutes writing something from the point of view of a girl from Serenje who has just been told she will have a bed in the new dormitory.
Several of us found this exercise surprisingly moving, me included. I was reminded of some of the children I met in Uganda in 2012, including a girl called Joyce, who’s featured in the photo above.
Building a dorm has not been a construction project, it has been and will be about changing lives.
Here’s what I wrote. The girl in my story is about Joyce’s age.
Serenje Dormitory Girl
When I grow up I want to be a doctor.
We go to the big school in the town. It is many miles from my village and we have to carry our food for the week. We always arrive in the darkness, thirsty and covered in orange dust, late on Sunday evening and we always go back to my grandmother on Friday afternoons when it is very hot still.
My grandmother tells me that I have a clever mind and that I am a fast learner. I show her my good grades and tell her all I have learned that week when I go home to her. She looks after me and my two brothers since we were little.
I heard the stories of rich people building our school a dormitory for the girls. It sounded like a dream but then they started building it. I watched them put the foundations into place and I watched the brick walls get taller. I watched them put the roof on and I saw them paint the building. Every night I have laid in my hut which I share with nine other girls and I have whispered ‘Dear God please let me have a bed in the dormitory. I promise I will work hard.’
Now the dormitory is finished. It looks very important as though intelligent, good girls should stay there.
Today I can’t believe it. I’ve been chosen as one of the girls for the dormitory. I wanted to jump up and down and up and down and scream ‘I have a bed. I am a dormitory girl.’ But I kept it all inside me so that I didn’t make the other girls jealous. Then later I went down alone to the river and I jumped up and down and I laughed and I thanked God.
I have a bed in the big new dormitory. I will make my grandmother proud. I will be a doctor.