In May of 2013 Bread and Water for Africa UK officer, Nisha Singh, visited our partners in Zambia at the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre.

The trip gave Nisha the opportunity to speak extensively with Angela Miyanda, Kabwata’s founder and executive director, about the current operations, tour the orphanage, and discuss plans for its future – including a banana plantation designed to generate income for the orphanage towards its ultimate goal of self-sufficiency.

But for Nisha, far and above the highlight of her field visit was spending time with and getting to know the 60 or so children who have found a loving home with Angela and are getting the education they need to build their brighter futures.

She listened to stories from all the children -like Moenya, 17, whose mother was HIV positive and brought her to Kabwata as a child; or Priscilla, 20, who has lived there since she was 7 with her younger sister Lina Tembo who has been there since she was 3; and Mwape, 16, who has lived there since he was 3 knowing very little about his past but always taking the younger children at Kabwata under his wing like a big brother.

One of the most difficult aspects about field trips to Bread and Water for Africa UK partners in countries including Zambia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and elsewhere is making quick friends, and then not knowing how each individual child that you met turned out. There are the small questions, “Did she pass her exam?”, or “Did those two ever sort out their football rivalry?” And then there are the larger questions, about their futures and how they are coping emotionally, that really dig into the core of why we support these programmes in the first place.

That’s why we were thrilled recently to hear updates from Angela on three young people Nisha had met at Kabwata nearly two years ago: Emmanuel, Agnes, and Pyela.

While Nisha was in Zambia, she met then 17-year-old Emmanuel. Emmanuel had lived at Kabwata for seven years when he was a child. His mother was compelled to bring him to Kabwata at a young age after she contracted HIV from his father and chose to leave him and support Emmanuel on her own. When Emmanuel’s mother became stronger, she and Emmanuel left Kabwata for a home of their own. But sadly, six weeks prior to Nisha’s arrival at Kabwata, Emmanuel himself had to bring his mother back to Kabwata due to her severe illness and inability to care for herself or for Emmanuel. She passed away soon after Emmanuel brought her to Kabwata after a difficult struggle with her HIV illness.

So when Nisha met Emmanuel, he was reserved, serious, and still coping with the recent death of his mother.

Now, two years later, Angela has shared with us that while he has still not recovered fully from the death of his mother, he is doing very well otherwise.

“Emmanuel completed high school and passed well,” she tells us. “He is due to go to college and currently he is working to raise those very funds to go to college.”

For perspective, 47% of Zambian children do not complete even their primary school education (Forms 1-7) due to lack of funds. But for any child who calls Kabwata their home, school is emphasised as a priority and thanks to the generosity of our supporters across the UK, any youth who wants to go to school – like Emmanuel – can receive the education they deserve.

Another girl that Nisha befriended on her visit was the spunky Agnes, a then 15-year-old, 9th grader who had lived at Kabwata since she was a baby.

At the time, she told Nisha that she enjoyed civics class because she likes to learn about politics. Agnes’ dream was to become a lawyer or journalist one day after she finished her secondary school education and earned a university degree.

Back in 2013, Nisha commented on Agnes’ drive and confidence in herself, “She said that she likes to read books and sing gospel music, and when I asked her if she likes the same movies that her friends Esther and Memory enjoy, she made a face, laughed, and said she doesn’t like to waste time with it.”

Now, Angela tells us that Agnes is well on her way to realizing her dream, a dream she has not given up on as she matures into a bright young woman.

“She has grown so much both physically and emotionally,” Angela said. “She is one of the children we depend on for responsibilities to help other younger children.”

And perhaps the best news?

“She has not changed her mind to be lawyer or journalist in the future.”

Pyela, who was 20 at the time of Nisha’s visit, is one of Kabwata’s greatest success stories.

He had been living at Kabwata since he was 5 years old and has always thrived in school. However, without tuition support from Angela and the Kabwata Orphanage, he never would’ve been able to realize his dream of graduating secondary school and attending college. Pyela told Nisha that if for any reason there was a delay in his tuition payments he could be “chased out of class” for however long it took for Angela to put together the money.

When Nisha met Pyela, he had just received a scholarship from Bread and Water for Africa UK to attend college to earn a 2-year degree in water engineering. Pyela’s goal was eventually to obtain a job in the mining industry constructing pipelines.  Although his primary interest is in agriculture, that requires a 4-year degree, so he chose water engineering as it is still relevant to agriculture, and because it is a universal need in communities across Zambia.

“Pyela seems to be very responsible and hardworking,” Nisha had recorded. “The younger kids respect him and he is clearly one of the role models at Kabwata.”

Despite receiving scholarship from Bread and Water for Africa UK, his limited financial means throughout college meant that he had to work twice as hard. Because he was unable to afford all the necessary books for his courses – especially since engineering has some of the most expensive course materials – he would go to the library outside of classes to borrow the book and also worked on his papers at a local internet café, which was the only place he had computer access.