"I remember the letter that I carried home to my parents. It was in a white envelope and I was told I must not open it. I knew two other girls in my village who also had a letter, but they were younger then me. I wonder what it could be?
My mother works the land alone with grandpa and grandma but they are old and sleep a lot. My little brother plays and looks after the chickens and no our two goats. I love village life but my best time is being at school, I sing in the choir and my favourite lesson is English. I read all the books I can get my hands on and try my best with my writing too.
Although every moment at school is filled with wonder I am not so comfortable in the evenings when we walk to the compound to cook and sleep and wash our clothes and do our homework. At night I hear people shouting and I am frightened that someone will come into our hut.
The men call out and try and be friendly. They come too close and smell bad. I don't think they are friendly at all, and they are not respectable. They forget their responsibilities to their wives and children and spend their money on alcohol and drugs. Then they get too friendly and that's when I am afraid. I wish I could shut the door and lock it. I wish my dad was still alive to keep me safe. I wish I had a big strong brother who could protect me. I try to hide, to never meet their eyes, to never be out at night and to be as discrete as possible. I want to shrink and become like a mouse and find a hole to hide in at night.
The letter made its way home. My mother opened it and I had to read it to her because her reading and eyesight is pretty poor. As I read the words my hands began to shake uncontrollably. Could this be true? I had been chosen to live in the new dormitory. I was chosen on merit because my teachers had recognised my efforts and thought I had the best possible chance to make the most of this opportunity. I would have a bed and a desk and food would be provided. I would need to do household chores and to help with the younger girls and support them.
This is a miracle. I can be clean and safe and able to put all my energies into studying. Most of all I can form a choir and start a library and learn and learn and learn."
The above is a story written by Jacqui Webber Gant.