WRITTEN BY TAYLOR SATCHELL REID
In Lusaka, Zambia, life for young women on the streets can be worlds apart from our western comfort. While areas of the city are buzzing with opportunity, in the villages, girls as young as 13 are forced into prostitution to afford food. Street kids sell and survive on drugs. Parents are lost to HIV Aids or even common infections. Hope is a saving grace. As we approached the vibrant lilac walls of Vision of Hope, built by Mission Direct in 2016, the weight of this hope for young street girls and women became ‘heart-burstingly’ tangible... We spoke to Margaret and Mickey, two teens with a weight of experience and aspiration for the future. They spoke to us about their past and their present at Vision Of Hope...
What was life like before Vision of Hope ?
Life was so very difficult. After a lot of people have chased you away, you don't have a house to stay in or a place to eat food.
What are the best things about living here?
I never used to go to school before but now I've started going to school! I’m living in a big house and I'm getting a lot of love from the people here. The person who was supposed to give me love when I was a child never did. I'm now getting it from people who are not even my real relatives. I love it here because they have helped me with a lot of things. If I want to have a ‘mother talk’, they will talk with me and tell me, ‘No, what you are doing is not good for you’. We learn a lot because they teach us and do good things for us.
What are your dreams for the future?
When I complete my education I want to become a lawyer! I also want to have an orphanage for young children and to build a lot of shelters for elderly people who don't have anywhere to go.
How did you become a resident at Vision of Hope? :
I was staying with my uncle and he never used to treat me as a daughter. He just used to mistreat me and wanted to take me to the village where I knew I wouldn’t go to school. I would get married because that’s what they believe. I was 14 years old and thought: ‘I can’t go there! I just have to run away!’
Where did you go?
I went to my friend’s place and it was very dangerous for me. If you wanted to eat or stay, you would have to sleep with guys for money. I never wanted to do that. I was very scared and young, so I ran away again. I went to another friend and we went to the police. They called my family and the police asked my uncle: “Why do you want to take her to the village?” But he changed the story and said: “No I just wanted her to go and see her grandmother.” The police asked if I was going to school, but I hadn’t been since 2015. That’s when they went to the social worker and brought me here.
What you do think of it here?
I’m very happy! I want to be somebody in life. Vision of Hope has helped me a lot with food, clothes and everything like that. I go to school, Yeah, it’s a nice place. I love it!
What would you like to do when you finish school?
I want to be a nurse but have not yet decided because I also really want to be a model, taking pictures and making magazines! Ok... I want to be a business lady! Sometimes I think, ‘Ah I want to be an accountant’ - I love maths and science but I don’t really know what I want to do. I’m not decided… Only God knows!