Finding Hope: DREAMS in Zambia
For sisters Abigail and Hope Nsokolo, growing up wasn’t easy. Their father died when they were young, plunging their family into poverty. They started plaiting hair and selling sweets to help make ends meet. At 14, Hope became pregnant. Her dreams of finishing her education and earning a good living were fading fast.
Through a combination of their mother’s determination and their own resourcefulness, both Abigail and Hope managed to finish high school. In 2016, they joined DREAMS, a USAID-funded program that supports vulnerable adolescent girls and young women to be Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe. They were assigned a Mentor and a ‘Safe Space’ – a community location where girls and young women gather to learn about topics such as self-esteem and negotiation skills, sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention and financial literacy.
DREAMS set the sisters’ lives in a new direction. After having a child so young, Hope was determined to equip other girls with the knowledge and self-belief to make the best choices for their future. Abigail’s self-confidence grew, and she learned to look at her life differently. “I learned never to give up in life, but to use every life event as a stepping stone,” she says.
Today, Abigail and Hope are DREAMS Mentors themselves. They used their monthly mentor allowances to study heavy equipment repair, a certificate that leads to employment in the mining, agriculture or transport sectors. In their classes, they’re proud to be outperforming many of their male peers.
Read Abigail and Hope's World AIDS Day 2018 blog post.
DREAMS is part of the Zambia Community HIV Prevention Project, a five-year USAID cooperative agreement being implemented by Pact and sub-partners to reduce new HIV infections in Zambia.