Rural Zimbabwean girl's university dream
Gracsious Ncube grew up in rural Zimbabwe with little chance of an education. Now she's studying for a master's degree at university. Plan Zimbabwe's Gladman Njanji reports.
Growing up in the rural community of Chefunye, Zimbabwe - where women and girls were stereotyped as less capable - Gracsious Ncube never dreamt that she would one day be pursuing a master's degree.
Her chances of education were dim; however this changed with support from Plan's child sponsorship programme and her parents' encouragement.
Gracsious walked 8kms daily to Chefunye School; she braved chilly mornings and had lessons under trees with pupils scrambling for few textbooks. She had to endure the cold weather until Plan moved in to support the community to build classrooms.
Gracsious was among the first children from Chefunye to be enrolled as a sponsored child under Plan's children education and development programme.
To date, Plan Zimbabwe directly supports 50,000 children and indirectly supports about 250,000 in Zimbabwe.
"Plan's support through the school motivated us to enjoy education through providing good classrooms, school uniforms and other learning materials to shield us from the chilly mornings," reminisces Gracsious.
Gracsious devoted her time towards academic excellence and passed her high school examinations. She went on to study for a bachelor of science and obtained an honours degree in sociology at the University of Zimbabwe.
Her passion for education has led her to pursue a master's degree in development studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam's International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Netherlands.
"I feel honoured to have made it this far. Where I grew up, girls were under pressure to prove that they too can do well academically."
Amidst such challenges, she points out that her religious values and principles sustained her throughout the journey.
Professionally, she aspires to be a holistic development practitioner working for the vulnerable. Grascious wishes to see girls break all the social and cultural barriers.
"I want to ensure that the girl child understands that she is valuable and can achieve more. Women and girls have what it takes and it's a matter of exploring territories that were previously known to be for men. I want to see them live their dream and attain their worth," she says.
Every year, 15 million girls are forced or coerced into marriage.