For teenagers living in the Mongu
district in western Zambia, the closest
high school can be more than 30 miles
away. Without access to cars or buses,
getting to school is nearly impossible.
To allow these students to attend school,
the Missionary Oblates recently built a
dormitory in the city of Lukulu with funds
provided by the United States Province.
The dormitory, located at the Oblates’
Sancta Maria Mission, is for girls who attend
St. Columba’s Secondary School and Phelim
O’Shea High School. Saint Columba and
Phelim O’Shea are the only schools in the
district for students in grades 8 through 12.
“In the past these girls had to rent
thatched huts with no running water, no
electricity and no proper security in order to
go to school,” said Fr. Kennedy Sampa,
O.M.I. the parish priest at Sancta Maria
Mission. “They had to walk to and from
their home villages, usually on the
weekends, to obtain food. The roundtrip
could be as much as 60 miles.”
The dormitory, which accommodates
up to 80 girls, was built by the Sancta
Maria Mission to give the students a room,
bed, electricity, water and security.
Breakfast and the midday meal are prepared
for them every day. The girls pay the
equivalent of just twenty U.S. dollars to live
in the dormitory for an entire year.
With a housemother and support from
the church, the girls have guidance and
counseling as well as moral support.
Although the meals are for both boys and
girls, the dormitory is for girls only. The
Oblates hope to build a boys dormitory in
the near future.
Monde Siita, a 12th-grade student at
St. Columba Secondary School, is one of
the lucky girls who now lives in the
dormitory. Monde, who is from the
Mbanga area of Zambia, came to Lukulu in
2007 when she was accepted into grade 10.
For two years Monde rented a hut in
Chimbanda so she could attend school. Each
month she paid 25,000 kwacha ($5 U.S.) and
5,000 kwacha ($1 U.S.) for water. She tried
to buy candles so she could study at night,
but they were too costly. As a result her
performance at school was very bad in
grades 10 and 11. She thought about
quitting and going back to her tiny village.
But at the beginning of the school year
the Oblates opened the dormitory and
Monde was selected to move in. She entered
the dormitory last February and since then
her schoolwork improved dramatically.
“I feel good to be in the dormitory
because I now have enough time to study,”
says Monde. “I receive breakfast and lunch
from Monday to Friday. The toilets and
showers are inside. How I wish it was
opened when I was still in grade 10.”
Monde added, “Thanks be to God who is
encouraging these people to help people like
us who are in need. May He continue blessing
them and give them power to proceed.”