My son's life for a cow

Mathews’s family are among the poorest in Sikwenda village located in the heart of Nyimba district in Eastern Province.

It is not strange in this community for poor families such as Mathews’ to link their 5 year old sons to a family with cattle as a way of earning one cow after every 4 years. And so for over 10 years, Mathews herded cattle in the bush, with some nights spent in the bush particularly when a cow goes missing. “Sometimes we come back and spend a night in the village and other nights we stay on and try to locate the cow.” He says.

Things changed for the better after the traditional leadership declared that all in and out of school children be given an opportunity to participate in the community reading camps introduced by World Vision Zambia. Mathews was among the boys, who grasped the opportunity to take part in the camps.

He would bring his herd closer to the reading camp and join in the reading. Nephatary Banda, a Reading Camp Facilitator who is a community volunteer trained by World Vision decided to make exceptional arrangements for Mathews, given his passion for reading and irregular presence in the sessions. “I have given the young man access to contemporary story books that he can be using while in the bush but most importantly, I have paired him with one of my best readers in the camp-Jackson- who currently is doing his 5th grade”.

Today, Mathews now 17 with two cows is able to read in Chinyanja and dreams of one day going to school to become a doctor.