by Ethan Swanson
It was a simpler, happier time for Joefrey and his family. Whenever he and his two older siblings weren’t in school they were coming home to parents who loved them; they were playing games, laughing, and helping with chores.
But Joefrey’s happy childhood disintegrated when, at the age of eleven, both his parents died. His brother was expelled from secondary school for not being able to pay tuition. His sister had to get married and start her own family. Now, instead of laughing and playing, Joefrey went hungry and lost hope.
Once he finished his free primary school education, Joefrey enrolled in his local secondary school. But when the school discovered he was unable to pay, like his brother before him, Joefrey was expelled. “I didn’t know what to do next,” he explains. Growing up, Joefrey wanted to be a doctor, an occupation which requires many years of schooling, including university. However, without the money to attend school, Joefrey faced an uncertain future.
One day someone in his village told him about a school many miles away, a school that taught orphans, a school that was free. And so with the hope to keep his dream alive, Joefrey walked to this rumored school, a walk that would take him farther away from home than he had ever been in his lifetime.
The journey took him over nine hours. When he finally arrived at Mwaji Secondary School, tired and afraid, he approached one of the teachers. “How much does it cost to go to this school?”
“Are you an orphan?” the teacher asked.
“Then for you it is free. Orphans never have to pay.”
That was back in 2010. Now Joefrey is in his third year at Mwaji Secondary School. He rents a room in the village and works in between his studies. He still wants to be a doctor.
“I want to thank Orphans Africa for this opportunity,” he says. “I want to thank them for believing me and supporting me when nobody else would.”
Children like Joefrey are the reason Orphans Africa exists. His courage strengthens all of us.