Success Stories

Ruth Katongo Success UNZA Graduate Bakashana

Ruth Katongo

Ruth (featured above, and on our homepage) is currently on Full Bursary at the University of Zambia studying a BA of Education and Library Studies. Ruth was orphaned at a young age, and her opportunity to pursue a high school education were slim. Thanks to the support she received from Bakashana, Ruth attended school, studied hard, and took advantage of the opportunity she was given to learn at Kasama Girls School. Ruth faced and overcame many challenges, and managed to get good grades and score well on the 12th grade national exam. She then moved to Lusaka and began using her personable nature, her motivation, and help from Bakashana, to search for sponsors for University. She was accepted on full scholarship to the University of Zambia (UNZA), and is now in her last year to complete her degree. We are so proud of Ruth, and look forward to continuing to work together and support her as she becomes Bakashana’s first University Graduate!

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Idah Chanda

Idah Chanda Success

Idah overcame all odds to be accepted at Mulungushi University! She is in her second year pursuing a medical degree. Orphaned at a young age, Idah’s life has been completely transformed with the help of Bakashana and her private sponsor, Cindy Valentine. Earlier in her life, Idah was living in a shanty town outside of Kasama in the overcrowded home of her Grandfather, where she was overworked. Bakashana found her, and hepled her to attend the best secondary school in Kasama: Laura Girls’ School. Her sponsor learned of her long, arduous walk to school (more than two hours, each way). Through Bakashana, Cindy purchased Idah a bicycle. Idah was eager to earn the trust and responsibility that Cindy and Bakashana had given her, and with the increased study time that she gained from cycling to school, Ida’s marks steadily increased. Idah’s dreams of living in an environment where she has access to electricity (for lights to study at night) and a more tranquil living situation came true – she began boarding full-time at Laura Girls’ School. Idah’s confidence, self-worth, and willingness to participate and speak her mind have all soared during her time with our family. Soon, she will become a doctor! None of this would have been possible without the help of Cindy and Bakashana.

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Cecilia Lesho


Cecilia is the product of a female sponsorship program. She was assisted with sponsorship in grade 11, after her family fell into financial trouble and she would otherwise have lacked the means to continue her education. She has grown in her role as a counselor, and uses traumatic experiences from her youth to relate with and coach young women in Bakashana’s program. Her charisma, confidence, and self-esteem are all qualities which she credits to alternative curriculum programs such as the ones provided by Bakashana. She is now an integral part of the Bakashana team, and a personal mentor and role model for all of the young women on scholarship.

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Christine Chileshe

christine success

Christine Chileshe was one of the inspirations for the founding of Bakashana in late 2009. Christine stood out in her classes at the rural school of Nkole Mfumu, and she was consistently engaged and in attendance regardless of the circumstances which would motivate her to stay home. Throughout primary school, Christine lived with an Uncle and was responsible for much of the work at home: cleaning, cooking, and caring for her younger cousins. Christine, like many young women facing adversity and financial impoverishment, knew that pursuing her education was the way she could create a better life for herself and her family.

Christine worked tirelessly to pass her grade 9 exams, and succeeded in 2010 when she was selected to attend secondary school at Kasama Girls Secondary School.

With the financial and emotional support of Bakashana, Christine excelled in Secondary school. She relished the opportunity, and for the first time in her life, 15-year-old Christine was relieved of the heavy workload that she had faced in her Uncle’s home. Her daily task transformed to committing all her energy towards studying and being a young woman. In 2012, Christine graduated from grade 12 with high marks. Due to family circumstances, she returned to her brother’s home outside of Lusaka to care for her two younger siblings. She pursued opportunities to use her education and share with others, and quickly began teaching youth at the local Community school. In 2014, Christine was given the opportunity to return to Kasama. Through her return, her experience with Bakashana has come full circle: Christine is now facilitating exam prep sessions with grade 9 girls from Bakashana programs twice a week. She has found through this work that she has a passion for teaching and sharing, and wishes to impact young women’s lives in positive ways, much as hers was impacted through the help of Bakashana.

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Mary Mwamba


Mary comes from a long lineage of female potters. She lives with her husband in a village on the outskirts of Kasama, and supports her family by subsistence farming. To supplement her income and provide goods for her family which she and her husband cannot cultivate (soap, salt, clothes, etc.), Mary and her husband sell their handicrafts – walking through the streets of Kasama town with their goods on their heads. To make and market these goods, the two have formed a group called the Chitambi Pottery Group.

Making a fair wage from the production of these goods has become increasingly difficult in Kasama, as “modernizing” Zambians often opt for plastic Chinese goods instead of “traditional” wares. Mary sells her beautiful clay pots, made from hand (and previously the only way of cooking or containing any food) for $4 per pot, and still finds it hard to attract customers. Bakashana sought out the expertise of Mary, and her mother and daughter, to facilitate an artisanal workshop this year. The Mwamba family taught the young women of Bakashana the ancient Bemba art of pottery. Bakashana participants learned more about their culture and gained an income-generating skill, while Mary and the women in her family were able to supplement their income from fees they were paid as facilitators, while all parties enjoyed the reinforcement of traditional culture which comes from the collaboration between young women and their elders. Furthermore, Mary and her family saw an increase in profits from the sale of pots as their popularity spread through Kasama as a result of the workshop.

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Cindy Valentine

Cindy developed a strong connection to the young women of Zambia, and Kasama specifically, when her daughter Jenna served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2011-2013. As a champion of girl education, Cindy was inspired to sponsor an individual girl from Bakashana’s program. Over the years of sponsoring Idah, Cindy and Idah have developed a unique relationship. Through this relationship, Cindy has learned of the trials and tribulations faced by Idah, and has committed financial, emotional, and educational support to ensure a healthy environment for Idah to continue her education. This relationship has helped Cindy to gain an increased understanding of the difficulties many young women in Kasama face, and the strength and beauty of character that shines through those who succeed despite such obstacles. With the direct connection between Sponsor and Donor provided by Bakashana, and 100% of Cindy’s donations going directly to Idah, there is sure to be further success to be added to this story in the future.

“Sponsoring Idah has meant that I am beginning to help meet the need for educating young women in Zambia. I have been inspired by my daughter, Jenna Metz, a former Peace Corps volunteer as well as the book “Half the Sky” to reach out to meet this need. I will get to meet Idah and the other members of the Bakashana family when we visit in August. Idah has opened my eyes to the many obstacles to getting educated in Zambia. These include travel, family issues, inadequate light to study and some days an empty stomach. I am excited to be working with Claire to address some of these issues. I think working with individuals one on one gives you the ultimate satisfaction of helping to change a life and in doing so, her family’s life as well.”

-Cindy Valentine

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Chitambi Community Pottery Group

chitambi pottery group

Bakashana had the privilege of being hosted by a group of women who, along with Mary, supplement their family’s subsistence farming lifestyle with small profits gained from selling pottery. As the hosts of Bakashana’s most recent artisanal workshop, each of the young women in the pottery group was provided with nutritional supplements, facilitation fees, and an increased market for their goods. It was also a unique opportunity to empower these women, as they, through teaching and sharing their craft, were valued, honored, and regarded as skilled and cultured individuals of their community.

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Bakashana is a non-profit organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)3 of the internal revenue code, and as such is qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, transfers or gifts under sections 2055, 2106, or 2522. We are a public charity and all contributions are tax-deductible.