19/08/2016 10:52 BST | Updated 19/08/2017 06:12 BST

The Girls Who Dream Of A Levels


For so many Mums, Dads and carers of A Level students, yesterday was enormous! I remember when my son received the news - the initial shock and the intense relief left little energy for celebrations. It's such an important milestone that triggered for me a flood of memories of our amazing journey together as mother and son.

He had worked so hard and for so long. After an earlier setback, he had had a mountain to climb and few thought he could pull it off. It was sweet.

He'd also received support. I remember reflecting on how blessed he and his friends were, especially in the context of the wider world. It's no surprise given my day job running iguacu(igwah-soo), the platform for effective global giving. But I am sure there are many parents who feel the same.

So many children in this country benefit from a safe quiet place to study, good nutrition, a purpose built classroom, qualified teachers, books, pens, computers, a safe route to school and so much more.

At work I had read about the girls living in poverty in drought-stricken rural Zimbabwe who walked 20km to get to school yet, despite their circumstances, were their school's strongest students! They dreamed of being able to stay on in school and sit their A levels. It was satisfying at the time to jump online and donate so that one of those girls could have that opportunity. As my son passed through this great door of life, I was able to open the door for another. It was a wonderful feeling.

I share my journey with fellow parents and carers in case today you feel the same and want to help another girl through the door. If that's you, you can follow this link to support the appeal.

The girls' education is supported by Camfed, one of the leading charities in this field. One young girl supported by Camfed went on to become a doctor and now spends her time giving back to rural communities. Another graduate, Faith Nkala, now runs Camfed Zimbabwe. The Camfed alumni is quite an amazing group of women.

Camfed has been supporting the education of girls in sub-Saharan Africa since 1993. Their effective model of community engagement has now been replicated in more than 5,300 partner school communities in Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. They work in some of the most deprived rural communities and support the girls in greatest need. Infrastructure of any kind in these places is very limited. Ill-health is common and rates of literacy are extremely low. People live largely hand to mouth, and the girls often have to walk very long distances to the nearest school.

Their lives are a world away from the lives of our children and it's thanks to the tireless work of organisations like Camfed that we have this chance to connect, and make a massive difference to the life of another young person who unlike few people we know, strives to achieve against all odds.

Photo: Jonathan Birch/Camfed