What’s Happening in Bauleni
Dixon is a quiet, well-spoken fourteen-year-old boy who recently passed his ninth grade exam and is attending Chijenje South Secondary School. Dixon’s mother, Jesse Pini, is a teacher at the Bauleni Community Pre-School, which is supported by SWAAZ and Communities Without Borders. Dixon lives with his mother, grandmother, three sisters and one brother, as well as two cousins and one uncle.
From the start of our conversation it was clear that school was something of great importance to Dixon. This young man in the school uniform of white shirt and black pants, with his closely shaven head, was eager to tell me that he wants to be a civil engineer when he finishes school. His oldest sister attended university and works as a chef, and his older brother is currently taking computer science classes, but Dixon seemed thrilled with the idea of building roads, bridges and houses. He wants not just to build houses, though, he wants to be part of the planning and design process. When he was younger Dixon wanted to be a pilot, and he’d still love to own his own plane. However, now he wants a job with the “highest salary” possible so that he can help his family, maybe allowing him to pay for his sisters’ school fees and even to build a school!
Dixon is a young man who knows what makes him happiest. When asked this question directly, he responded “to be loved, to be cared for, to finish my schooling, and to take care of my family.” These are values that spoke to me, and may speak to you, for they are universal.
Dixon’s uncle who lives in the Eastern province is the head civil engineer for the city of Chipata. It is to this uncle that Dixon looks for a role model: kind, friendly, funny, intelligent and successful in his profession, his uncle inspires Dixon.
Dixon has a warm smile and eyes that flit towards mine to make eye contact, and then move back up towards the ceiling. He has traveled to the copper belt, to Mazabuka and to Livingstone in the southwest, places in Zambia that many other Zambians have never been, but he dreams of things much larger. Dixon would like to visit Perth Australia, Paris, and Malaysia. His favorite cousin lives in Perth, and he has heard great things about Malaysia, but to see the Eiffel Tower you must go to Paris. Hopefully someday he will visit all these places.
Dixon spoke eloquently about his greatest fear -- the fear of failure in school, of not passing his exams, not being accepted into the University or not getting a good job. His high motivation ensures that he takes the twenty-five minute bus ride to school in Bauleni each day. His empathy for classmates who cannot afford the bus fare ensures that he sometimes makes the roughly two-hour walk home. Dixon’s motivation is an important asset as he moves through high school, where his classes contain up to seventy (70!) students each.
When I asked Dixon at the close of our time together if there was anything more he would like me to know, he said “I want to thank you for the support you’ve given us and the money you’ve given us. We really want more of our friends to have the money to go to school so they can face the challenges of life.”
For me, this eloquent young man shined a bright spotlight on the value and importance of the work being done by CWB in Zambia. Dixon was interviewed for this story by Erika Pond, a service volunteer traveler from our U.S. Community Partner, Eliot Church, Newton, Mass.