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Joyce stands with a female pupil from the school she founded - both smile contentedly
04 October 2021

Teachers making a difference

Two teachers beat the odds to become educators, thanks to World Vision support

Thank you teachers!

It’s World Teachers' Day on 5 October and at World Vision we’re giving a massive shout out to all the teachers who help our little ones learn, especially in these difficult times.

Around the world we support children in the most vulnerable places - and many of them see their teachers as heroes. Because many of them are!

Joyce, wearing blue t-shirt, stands in front of the school she founded
Joyce stands in front of the school she founded for her community's children

Joyce Phiri, 57, lives in one of the most remote villages of Katete District, Zambia.

For years, Joyce’s dream was to see her community transformed with well-educated children. However, children did not have access to education – because the only school was a long way from their village.

In 2000, Joyce was delighted to receive adult literacy training from World Vision, but “staying at home and keeping the knowledge I received from World Vision to myself did not give me peace. My dream had always been to see children going to school and have a bright future,” says Joyce.

Under the shade of a tree

In 2004, she started a class with 20 children. Since she did not have anywhere to teach or materials to use, Joyce set up under the shade of a tree and the children used the ground as their book.

“Some parents took their children away from our little class and called me names because they thought I was mad,” she remembers. “But some parents were very understanding and offered support.”

Those parents asked churches to supply books and pencils and it made a huge difference.

Seeing the commitment and transformation in children, the community worked together. They found materials and built a shelter, which they handed over to Joyce.

Beatrice, 16
“I always wonder what our village would have been without a school and what kind of a child I would have turned out to be”

Beatrice, 16

School pupil in Zambia

Good results

“I started with only 20 children but increased to 100 because parents started seeing the good results and behavioural change in the children,” Joyce explains.

Through the Community Voice and Action (CVA) group, World Vision came to the area and ran training sessions, including advocacy lessons. And, with help from the community, building resources were found and a classroom block was built.

In 2006, the school started and enrolled 186 children. But still the number continued to increase and the community saw the need for more classrooms.
“Seeing the school starting to grow made me happy; my wishes were being fulfilled and the children in the community had access to education with the help of community volunteers who sacrificed their time to teach,” says Joyce.

“We again decided to use the knowledge we received from the CVA training to approach and lobby for more classes from the local government. Our request was heard and another classroom block was built,” she says.

16-year-old girl, wearing school uniform, smiles into the camera as she sits at a desk in her classroom.
In Joyce's community, Beatrice, 16, is working towards becoming a nurse, thanks to the education she's getting.


16-year-old Beatrice is a ninth-grade student at the school and hopes to become a nurse. Beatrice says she is inspired by Joyce’s courage and ambitions to see her community develop and have a school.

“I always wonder what our village would have been without a school and what kind of a child I would have turned out to be,” says Beatrice. “Maybe I would have been married off at a young age. I am inspired by madam Joyce’s courage and I am thankful for her efforts to bring development in our village.”

Joyce is grateful to World Vision for helping her dream come true. “Together, we can change the world,” she adds.

A young woman sits at a desk in the Philippines, ready to teach
Mary's future changed completely because of education. Now she's sharing it with the next generation.

Sponsored child becomes teacher

Over in the Philippines, Mary remembers how she, “came from a poor family. There were days when we would just mix rice with salt because we didn’t have enough. I’d walk for at least 30 minutes just to reach school.”

Her father used to be a security guard whose income was not enough to provide for all their needs. When World Vision started working in her community, Mary became a sponsored child.

She says, “My sponsor’s name is Robert. I remember receiving letters from him every December and as a child that meant a lot to me.”

She grew up feeling supported. "I still remember the feeling of going to the mall every school opening. For children like me, whose families could barely provide three meals a day, setting foot in the mall was a big thing. World Vision staff would take us with them to buy school uniform, shoes and school materials.

"When I was about to enter high school, I was worried because I would need to commute twice to reach the school. My parents didn't have enough, but [World Vision] helped ensure that I didn't stop going to classes. I was provided support with transport.”

Confidence boost

She continues, “Not only was I supported with material needs. I was involved in different life skills training and was trained as a child facilitator. This helped boost my confidence and it influenced my decision to become a teacher,” she shares.

Mary had a happy childhood, not only because of all the educational support she received through the generosity of her sponsor, but also of the friendship she has built with other World Vision children.

"Once a year, we would celebrate our birthdays together. We'd also go to different workshops where we were all [taught] to be confident and to be the leaders that we are now. Up until early high school years, I've always wanted to become a doctor. Then, one day, World Vision had a training on children becoming peace-builders. I became a child facilitator to different workshops and then I knew, I wanted to teach."

Mary is now a licensed high school teacher and giving back to her community in her province Misamis Oriental. When she started working, she and her oldest sister also convinced their mother to go back to school, who then finished midwifery training at the age of 53.

Amid COVID-19 teachers like Mary are helping ensure that the education of children will not be further delayed. “This is a challenging time, but I believe that there is always a way to help children to continue learning,” she shares.

Mary is especially passionate about education after the challenges she faced. Without World Vision her life may have been very different. Now she wants to give back. “I want to inspire children, like I was inspired by my sponsor and World Vision, especially now in the context of COVID-19. Whenever my students need me, I make sure that I am there for them because I know how it feels to have someone rooting for you.

"To Robert, my sponsor, I never met you, but I am extremely grateful for your life. I grew up not just with financial support but I also had support emotionally and spiritually. I can say that because of World Vision's help, I can now make a difference in the lives of other children."

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