Children in Zambia encounter many hurdles in their young lives. Most are not able to obtain an education. Those who are lucky enough to have a place in a classroom have trouble affording testing fees that allow them to move on to the next grade. Those who are able to stay in school and move on struggle to pay the application fees to apply to college. The few that are able to apply to college and are accepted struggle to pay their school fees, leaving no money for food and other necessities. It is no wonder that 39% of Zambians are illiterate – they cannot go to school because they have to make money for food, and if they can go to school most only attend for 7 years or less.

This cycle is playing out in 20 year-old Arnold Nsofwa’s life. At the tender age of 6, both of his parents died and a few of his siblings followed. His grandparents took he and his remaining siblings in, and shortly after these siblings passed away. Arnold was then the last living member of his family. After attending school up to grade 7, he tried twice to take the exam to move on to the 8th grade. Each time he went to take the exam, his grandparents were unable to pay the fee. The third time he tried to take the exam, his grandfather died, and any hopes of financial support were snuffed. At this time, he went to live with his uncle.

“Paying attention in school was very hard for me. When you are worried about how you are going to find the money to pay for school and hungry because you haven’t eaten in days, it is hard to concentrate on studies. I was also working to try and save enough money for school fees, which left me no time to study after school. My uncle kicked me out of the house when he saw my bad grades. I tried to re-take the tests, but did not have the money to do so.”

Now Arthur is living with an aunt who has 4 small children of her own. None of her kids are in school and they struggle to make it through each day. “I don’t know what to do next. I want to make sure the young ones I live with have a better life than I have. My dream is to finish school, go to college, and become a secondary teacher to support myself. Please, don’t let my story end here.”

In every village in Zambia there are hundreds of “Arnolds.” Hundreds of young men and women trying desperately not to give up on their dreams of education and escaping poverty.

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