For Ngoni, going to university was a dream he thought would never come true. However, thanks to SOS Children his dream became a reality.
Ngoni’s road to university was a tough one. An incredibly bright boy he was given a place at one of the most prestigious secondary schools in Bulawayo, but attending the school was impossible. His family struggled to put food on the table, let alone pay for a uniform and expensive school fees. At just 12 years old, Ngoni felt his dream slipping away from him.
"A remarkably intelligent child"
Things began to change when SOS Children became aware of Ngoni's situation. “Someone came to speak to my mother and my grandmother about SOS Children’s work in the community and then suddenly everything became possible,” recalls Ngoni.
Khosi Mpfou is part of our Family Strengthening Programme team in Bulawayo. He remembers Ngoni’s story well; “When we came to the house, we found his HIV-positive mother bedridden and desperately ill. In terms of parental care there was only an elderly grandmother. Ngoni’s younger siblings really needed care, and Ngoni, a remarkably intelligent child, had to be supported.”
There are 1.4 million people in Zimbabwe living with HIV. That's 15% of the population - one of highest rates in the world. Without proper medication, HIV is a debilitating virus which significantly limits an individual's capacity to work.
Ngoni hadn’t been able to go to school for a few months when the team became aware of his family’s plight. While they couldn’t cover the costs of the excellent Mission School he had been attending, they did pay for him to attend a cheaper, local public school.
Ngoni is very diplomatic when it comes to describing his experience at the school. “They did not offer science! And the teachers were often on strike” he says. This is a story that is all too common accross Zimbabwe. While the country has a relatively high literacy rate, many schools are closed or offer a very limited curriculum thanks to a shortage of teachers and regular teacher strikes.
But, as with so many areas of his life, Ngoni did not let the difficult circumstances affect him. In fact, he says being at the public school made him work harder than ever.
A proud university student
The hard work paid off. Today, Ngoni is a first-year computer science student at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo. He loves being at university but finds it tough sometimes. “I am still adjusting. I have to work so hard I only socialise on Sundays, but my ambition is to excel in the field of science, so ultimately it’s worth it.”
Ngoni is grateful for the opportunity SOS Children gave him to continue his education. He now tutors science and maths to neighbourhood children, including many children from our Children’s Village in Bulawayo and those involved in the Family Strengthening Programme – just like he was so many years ago. “I want to bring meaning to my society,” he says. “Even at home I can make a difference.”
We have been active in Zimbabwe since 1983. We give the poorest and most vulnerable children brighter futures through our three Children's Villages, Family Strengthening Programmes and schools. Find out more about our work in Zimbabwe.