By Gillian Brand
Mothers deserve to finish their education - despite their age or social standing
Ndakaziva Muraugwa and one of her children. Image: Stanley Ndambakuwa/ACFE
By age 29 Ndakaziva Muraugwa was not only married, but taking care of her three children and her sick husband. Despite her tireless efforts, she faced abuse and domestic violence at home. This early and unhealthy marriage forced her to leave school before being able to write form four, the final level of lower secondary education in Zimbabwe.
But her suffering did not end there. Before Ndakaziva reached her secondary level, her father passed away. Ndakaziva and her widowed mother tried their hardest - but there was not enough money to sustain them and send her to school.
As she got older, Ndakaziva’s responsibilities changed - but she never gave up on her dream of one day finishing her own education. As a student, she was very fond of playing netball and creating art. She dreamed of becoming a teacher.
It is hard to return to school after starting a new life as a parent. Taking care of her family is a full time job.
Stanley Ndambakuwa and School Principal, Susan Jere pose for a photo with ACFE Group's 100 beneficiaries. Image: Obvious Gonangombe/ACFE
However, the African Community Fund for Education stepped in and listened to Ndakaziva’s story. They believed in her and gave her a scholarship to return to school.
At first, her husband supported the idea of her returning to school. But the path was longer and more difficult than either of them imagined, and his support for her wavered. He feared that she would leave him if she was more educated than him. Now, she is faced with the task of taking her examinations early or never getting the chance to take them at all.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put additional pressure on this deadline. School - her safe space for learning - has been taken away. She must study for these tests at home, and faces a real chance of never returning even after the pandemic is over.
Even though she has passed the traditional age of students, and has children of her own, she deserves a chance to finish her education and follow her dreams. By supporting Ndakaziva, and many girls and young mothers like her, the African Community Fund for Education is building the future for women and girls. They too will fight to ensure that their children are educated.
Gillian Brand is a graduate from the University of Chicago Center for Middle Eastern Studies with a Master of Arts degree in Middle Eastern Studies. She focuses on modern Middle Eastern politics, conflicts, and Arabic.