Jackson is 20 years old and dreams of becoming a doctor. A laudable ambition wherever you are in the world. The career path to become a doctor demands dedication, determination and hard work, it could be likened to climbing the mountain of ambition. Some students look at the path ahead and decide to choose a different challenge. For some the route to the peak is straight forward and they are helped along the way. But for Jackson the route has been tortuous, filled with insurmountable cliff faces and rock slides which had threatened to stop his progress.
For Jackson the first 16 years of his life was hard but relatively stable. He and his family lived in a small village in Chato, one of 5 administrative districts in the Kagera region of Tanzania. Like most of the population of their village Jackson’s family are subsistence farmers. His parents, Abel and Celina were uneducated but worked hard to provide for their 8 children. Jackson went to the local primary school and worked hard. But then in 2016 everything changed. Jackson’s father died of dropsy.
Alongside battling grief and loss, the family also now were in a struggle, including to bring in enough income to rent the tiny piece of land on which they grew their food. They were reliant on selling any surplus produce for income. A lack of irrigation in the area makes the land far less productive than it might be. The devastating loss could quite easily have caused Jackson to give up his educational ambitions, but in fact it galvanised him.
Jackson’s hard work at school paid off. He passed the Tanzania primary school leaving exams and successfully gained a place to attend secondary school. However, the nearest school was 2 days walk away from home. The family was already struggling to raise enough money to live on, without the added expense of school fees and cost of boarding near the school. Undaunted, Jackson started looking for a solution. He asked a family friend, who lived nearer the school if he could stay with him. To help pay his school fees Jackson took on casual labour, working different jobs in Chato to raise funds for his school fees. Unfortunately, this meant that he often had to miss school and consequently his school performance suffered. Despite the pressures and the feeling of isolation caused by his separation from his family, he still clung to his goal to become a doctor.
Jackson’s story came to the attention of Justice & Peace, our partner in the region, who arranged for him to receive ACT support. With his school fees paid and other school needs met, Jackson no longer needed to take on odd jobs to fund his education and he could concentrate on his studies at school. As part of his support, ACT registered his family for the Community Health Insurance Fund, which provides access to medical care and pays for prescriptions. The family also received a goat as part of the ACT Income Generation scheme. With all of these measures and regular support visits from the local volunteers to check on his health and school progress, Jackson’s life and well-being has greatly changed for the better. He is now excelling at school and this year has been made a school prefect.
Jackson is now in the final year of secondary school, an important year with national exams coming up later this year. For an aspiring doctor this period of preparation for the exams is stressful, particularly as schools have been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the uncertainty of when they will be able to go back to school. Unlike in the UK, schools in Tanzania do not have access to home schooling. Jackson can’t go online to access exam preparation materials that is available in the UK. The restrictions on travel means he is still separated from his family and unable to help his mother look after his younger siblings or sell their surplus produce. But despite all these obstacles Jackson remains determined to achieve his goal and one day become a doctor. We at ACT are determined to help him to get there.
ACT is for the children otherwise forgotten
With your support we can help many more children to have the opportunity to reach their potential in life. There are many children like Jackson requiring a sponsor. Please consider sponsoring a child or make a donation to ACT to help us, particularly during this difficult time? Your help means a lot to us. Please click here.
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