From Orphan to Advocate: Patricia Charts A Path To Success With The Guidance of AYC Mentors

By Annabel Mumba
Annabel Mumba is AYC’s Donor Relations Coordinator in Zambia. She is a Scholarship Fund recipient, high school graduate and current college student, and also one of our Success Stories.

Co-written by Pamela O’Brien, African Education Program’s Development Director, who is mentoring Annabel as she pursues a journalism degree.

Patricia stands in front of a building with her graduation cap and gown in her hand

Patricia’s graduation from University was a proud moment for her.

In 2008, Patricia's life took a pivotal turn when she received a sponsorship from the Amos Youth Centre (AYC) for her eighth grade education at Shikoswe Primary School. Little did she know that this would mark the beginning of a transformative journey that would shape her into a resilient advocate for the less privileged.

AYC's support extended beyond academics, providing Patricia with mentorship on life-changing topics that her guardians found uncomfortable discussing, like menstruation and reproductive health. The Centre provided a safe space and was full of young people who were also going through the same things as her. Despite the challenges she faced at home, Patricia excelled in grade nine, earning her a place at Malundu School, a private institution in Kafue where she finished the rest of her secondary schooling.

Every day after school, Patricia came to AYC’s Learning & Leadership Centre to participate in the tutoring program, clubs and feeding program. She received career guidance from Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza, AYC’s co-founder, and was free to interact with and speak to the AYC staff whenever faced with a challenge. During her gap year between high school and college, she was actively involved in spearheading the One-Up for Girl Power Club, a very popular club where girls talk about the different issues pertaining to their emotional, physical, and mental health. She was glad to share the same knowledge that she received when she was their age.

The time to apply for college came and Patricia faced uncertainty as well as challenges in applying to the right school and making the best career choice for herself. During this time, both Julie-Anne and Momma Mario, a long-serving volunteer from the United States, played important roles as they guided her to the right career path. Julie-Anne recognized Patricia's true passion and guided her to pursue a career where her passion and strength lied. Fast forward to today, Patricia holds a degree in Development Studies and Philosophy from the University of Zambia (UNZA), empowering her to make a difference in the lives of the least privileged in her community.


A Difficult Start Helped Build Resilience

Patricia's personal history, marred by the loss of her parents at an early age, didn't deter her from pursuing her dreams. From staying in an orphanage in Kafue to moving between family members, she weathered challenges with unwavering determination. Her resilience became the driving force behind her desire to uplift others facing adversity.

Currently, Patricia volunteers at the international NGO, Special Olympics Zambia, where she plays a pivotal role in coordinating athlete leadership and empowerment projects. Her responsibilities range from budgeting and event planning to government and stakeholder engagement. As a mentor to athletes with intellectual disabilities, Patricia's commitment to inclusive community service shines through in her daily activities.

But Patricia's journey isn't just about personal success—it's about giving back. Holidays spent volunteering at a local center shaped her into a responsible member of society. Inspired by the lessons learned from AYC, she emphasizes that help can take many forms, not just financial assistance, a lesson that she learnt from her mentor, Julie-Anne. Patricia embodies the spirit of selfless giving, understanding that being there for someone during tough times is invaluable.


Making A Difference In Her Community

As she continues to make a difference in her community, Patricia's involvement with AYC remains strong. Through an active WhatsApp group of alumni of the organization, she shares job opportunities and recommends AYC to potential supporters. Patricia remembers fondly the "Girls Talk" sessions she attended as a student at AYC, where taboo subjects were discussed openly, breaking cultural barriers and empowering young women.

Patricia attends a workshop dressed for success.

Now married with two delightful children—a boy and a girl—Patricia's journey extends beyond the conventional bounds of family life. With a keen eye on the future, she's set to embark on post-graduate studies this year, aiming to deeply understand the realms of development studies while building hands-on experience. But Patricia's ambitions don't end there. A newfound passion for sports, particularly boxing, has ignited a fire within her. She envisions a future where sports become a catalyst for change. Her focus extends to individuals with intellectual disabilities—an often overlooked segment of society.

Patricia is charting a path to bring her insights to a wider audience. The plan? To publish her work in reputable journals where her unique perspective on boxing, intellectual disabilities, and societal inclusivity can find a home. Patricia recognizes that people with disabilities are just as deserving of attention as their fully-abled counterparts, and she's committed to shining a spotlight on this often-neglected subject.

Her work at Special Olympics Zambia is just one facet of her dedication to creating a more inclusive world. Patricia envisions a future where every individual, regardless of ability, is afforded the opportunities and respect they deserve.

Patricia's story is one of resilience, empowerment, and the transformative impact of unwavering support. From orphan to advocate, she stands as a beacon of hope, inspiring others to overcome obstacles and contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society.

Patricia enjoys her time with work colleagues.


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