James: Fighting for a Future

My dream foods to eat in a day would be for breakfast; I would take a cup of tea with rice.
  James' family member being interviewed by a Story Time volunteer, surrounded by neighbors.

James' family member being interviewed by a Story Time volunteer, surrounded by neighbors.

James is a 22 year old recent graduate of Nsondole CDSS. He lives with his mother, father and seven siblings: four sisters and three brothers. His favorite subject in school is physical science. His family farms for a living, but they struggle to  feed themselves, while also putting two students through school.

When I get back from school, sometimes my home doesn’t have food to eat, so it’s very hard to study.

At first, his family couldn’t afford to send James to school, but with the help of the Standard Sponsorship Project (SSP), he now has the opportunity to achieve his dreams. Some of his goals include performing well on exams, getting into college, and obtaining a good job. He wants to be able to have the funds to help get his family out of poverty. James’ sister Shahida is also part of SSP.

“We can’t afford to sell [our crops], because [the food] is greatly needed in our home”

“We can’t afford to sell [our crops],

because [the food] is greatly needed in our home”

  James' mother, Ethel.

James' mother, Ethel.

We first met James when we were conducting an update interview with his mother about food security and his sister Shahida’s progress through the SSP program. At that time Story Time was only sponsoring Shahida, and his mother was talking to Story Time about the program. She told us that her son needed help, because the family couldn’t afford to send him to school. James had already passed his standard 8, (a government-required entrance exam to attend high school) and was selected to attend Nsondole. Story Time began sponsoring James as a Form 1 (Freshman) in 2013.

James helps his family on the farm by tilling, planting, and carrying out all of the other major roles.

“The food we grow is only for consumption but at times, it does not give us enough food in the year to eat. We can’t afford to sell it, because it is greatly needed in our home, so we can’t make profit from that. We mostly grow cassava, maize, groundnuts, rice, millet, peas and pumpkin leaves. I don’t eat anything at school, but I try to eat two times a day. We can’t take food to school, because of the lack of money to buy resources and food to take to school.

James told us about his dream foods: “My dream foods to eat in a day would be for breakfast, I would take a cup of tea with rice. The rest of the day I would eat, nsima with fish (matamba), or nsima with meat, or rice with meat. Some snacks that I like to eat are bananas, sugar cane and popcorn. Bananas are the most available at home and they are very helpful for my health.

“If I had a constant meal schedule, I feel like I would be very happy, I can work extra hard on my education and I can also live a healthy life. I can’t concentrate at school because sometimes I get very hungry and I have low energy. When I get back from school, sometimes my home doesn’t have food to eat, so it’s very hard to study. There is really nothing I can do because I have already accepted the fact that I am poor.

“If I could participate in the school garden, life can be made easy because I can sell what I have in the garden and use the money to buy some basic needs. It would also give my parents some farm to work on.”

The SSP project gives a chance for students to accomplish their dreams and help their families. If James’ story inspires you, please consider donating to the latest Community Needs project by clicking the button below.

To learn more about the Standard Sponsorship Project, and how you can sponsor a student one-to-one, click here.