It’s rare to come across a person as remarkable as Michael.* Now a student in primary school, living at a child development center in Zambia, he has overcome more in his 16 years than most people experience in a lifetime. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to a single mother, his life was far from easy since its start. Despite living in poor economic conditions from his birth, the hope of a better future and the importance of education were constantly a focus.
When he was a child, his mother died, leaving him in the care of her friend. After living with her for a brief time, she also tragically passed away. When her family said they were unable to care for Michael, he was left to fend for himself on the streets. Working odd jobs and carrying goods from the Congo into Zambia, he did whatever he could to afford food and find shelter. Michael shares about his friends also living in the streets: “The one thing I noticed about them was that they were never lazy and were always working very hard,” but the likely possibility of being arrested by the police was a constant fear. After years in this situation, Michael made the decision to cross the border into Zambia with the hope of a better life and the dream of going back to school.
After just a brief time living on the streets in Zambia, Michael was found by immigration and taken to child services. At this point, Michael was faced with a choice: to either return to his life in the Congo or to move into a child development center in a city in Zambia. At the center, he was told he would have the opportunity to continue his education. Michael shares, “I knew if I wanted my life to be different and I wanted a better future, I would need to get an education.” Michael made the decision to attend school and live at the center, where he now receives Rise Against Hunger meals each day and is taking classes in the fifth grade. Despite language barriers and being significantly older than other students in his grade, Michael’s focus on his schooling is unwavering.
As moved as Rise Against Hunger staff were by his story, we believe his perseverance will be even more of an encouragement to those in his community who share the same hope of a better future. As we continue to work toward a world where hunger doesn’t exist, we look for stories like Michael’s, which never cease to inspire us. Students like Michael remind us not just of the needs of children around the world, but also the need to create a world where kids can dream big dreams, people can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and hope is in no short supply. Donate today to make this world a reality for children around the world!