By Betty Trummel
I love a book that makes me think…that challenges me to make a connection with my own life. I recently finished “The Girl with the Louding Voice,” by Abi Daré. It is a work of fiction, written about a Nigerian girl whose goals are to become educated, escape the life of poverty she was born into, and to help other girls do the same.
Adunni’s life is not so different than so many other girls (and boys) around the world struggling to get an education. This book made me think about some of the students in Zambia that A to Z Literacy has touched and whose lives have touched our very own. The parallels between Adunni’s life and our Zambian students was unmistakable. One female student came to my mind immediately…Dianna Zulu.
I met Diana on my first trip to Zambia with A to Z, in 2010. In 2010 she was just emerging as a reader at Shine Zambia Reading Academy…and certainly didn’t have very well-developed literacy skills. Fast forward eleven years to 2021, and Diana has graduated from nursing school! This is such exciting news indeed!
With support from Mr. Vineet Bhatnagar, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Founder of Shine, Diana continued her schooling after graduating from Shine and went on to nursing school a few years ago. A few weeks ago, she wrote me to tell me, “I’m no longer that Diana you were teaching phonics and sight words to in 2010. I’m a qualified nurse.”
I’ve followed Diana through the years, and have seen her and her family each of the four times I’ve been to Zambia. She was determined, she had that “louding voice” and didn’t give up. Diana shared these thoughts with me a few weeks ago:
“My journey to become a nurse wasn’t an easy one, but thank God it all came to pass with the help from friends and prayers from my family. There are times I failed but I could not give up, because all my future and my family depends on this gift of education that I was given.
I believe that education is the only thing that God has given me through people who helped me achieve it to change my family’s life. Having been born from a humble background, I had to work extra hard to change some things in my family and my community. At the moment my fingers are crossed, waiting to be given an opportunity to make the difference and give back to my family and community.” (July 2021)
These stories of success are not as common as I wish they were, but still…each person who gets an education can give back to their community and help it grow stronger. Each person who uses their voice to speak up for education is critical to promote change for the future. Each person who is educated can teach others.
The following powerful words were spoken to Adunni, and I think they ring true no matter where you live or how old you are.
“You can do it,” she say. “God has given you all you need to be great, and it sits right there inside of you.” She drop my hands, point a finger to my chest. “Right inside your mind, in your heart. You believe it, I know you do. You just need to hold on to that belief and never let go. When you get up every day, I want you to remind yourself that tomorrow will be better than today. That you are a person of value. That you are important. You must believe this.” (Chapter 41)
Diana is poised to be an excellent role model at Shine, in her family, and in her community. She has goals for her future. “After some few years of practice, I’m upgrading to a degree.”
I am so very proud of Diana Zulu and congratulate her on her nursing qualifications! Each time At to Z Literacy Movement donates books or supplies or supports and encourages a student, we can help work toward a better future, whether it’s Nigeria, Zambia, or any place around the world. Please consider a donation to further the work of A to Z Literacy Movement.