Mary Chilekwa goes back to school at 60

05-Mar-2020 | News | Petronella Chindumba

Mary Chilekwa was born in 1959, and she was enrolled on the SOS Family Strengthening Programme in 2010. She was facing challenges with food security, poor health of the husband who was chronically ill for a long time’; failing to pay school fess for the grandchildren; failing to provide adequate clothes and beddings for the children. In 2017, Mary Chilekwa was identified as one of the caregivers that really needed nutritional support because she was weighing less than 30kgs. She was helped with nutritional supplements which helped her to start gaining back some of the weight, and now she weighs above 40kgs when she recently weighed. Mary Chilekwa lost her husband who had been sick (bedridden) for a long time and was not able to do anything, this means that she was the one fending for the family since 2010 when the husband got sick till his death in 2018.  She expressed happiness on what SOS has done for her in the past years like paying of grandchildren’s school fees, putting her on nutritional support and including her in capacity building workshops and community sensitizations where she learned the importance of education, entrepreneurship skills, business management, parenting skills, village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs), gender based violence, gender equality and equity, child abuse and many more trainings that she attended. She particularly mentioned how VSL helped her save some money, borrow money and start her business of selling vegetables and other merchandise. Mary Chilekwa attended most of the education sensitizations that took place in the community on the importance of education and through this, her desire to go back to school was ignited.

Mulenga Primary School within the community has a programme where they teach old men and women how to read and write. This opportunity provided a chance for Mary to go back to school. Mary said that she decided to go back to school because she never used to write anything during the workshops she attended and that made her feel bad all the time seeing her friends writing and reading. She said that she used to find it difficult to read anything given to her especially things like Medicines from clinics and she could not read expiry dates of products on the market. She further indicated that she used to feel bad when her grandchildren brought homework from school that she was not able to help them with anything, and not being able to just check and know how the children were performing at school. She did not like the idea of asking someone else to read things for her. This and many other things made her decide to go back to school to learn how to read, write, and help her grandchildren do work from school. She hopes that at the end of the literacy programme she should be able to read, write, and sign on documents and not using fingerprints all the time.


Petronella Chindumba
Brand and Communications