Margret Chembo inspires with her smile.
Margret strives to exemplify the love and gentleness of Christ toward every person she encounters, whether her family, teachers, or people she is meeting for the first time.
“My life is a living testimony, so I want to encourage others.”Margret
When Margret was a baby, the doctors told her mother she would have growing problems with her legs, but at the time these issues were ignored. As Margret grew, the pain in her legs became worse and worse. She would return to the doctor many times for scans and tests, but no answers would be found. Margret is now 17 years old and the excruciating discomfort and pain she experiences in her legs when she walks has become her normal. “It’s made me a stronger person.”, Margret explains, “My mother used to tell me, ‘There’s going to be a time with everything’s going to be okay. Hold on.’”
Margret remembers when she was 10 years old feeling extreme pain in her legs. She became bitter and didn’t want to be with anyone. She wanted to be alone all the time. In the darkest time of her childhood, Margret found hope with her pen. This is when she discovered she could express herself through her writing. Writing gives Margret a voice, a space to open up. There is nothing she won’t write about. Some of her writing includes her physical pains and past hurts from growing up being bullied for her height, as well as pieces about her friendships and family. She makes it clear that her writing is her own.
Writing has helped Margret learn to identify her emotions and express herself in other ways to the people around her. Here’s what those closest to her share:
Margret grew up with her aunt and uncle in the city of Lusaka in order to receive an education. This meant leaving apart from her mother and five siblings. She was occasionally able to visit her immediate family during the school holidays, but it is difficult being so far away. She lives with two younger cousins, Blessing and Peggy, and quickly found her role as their caring leader and big sister. Blessing and Peggy love Margret so much, even when she makes them do their house chores! They admire how much she takes care of them and looks after them. Margret is learning how to be tender and caring.
Margret’s uncle, Ackim, describes her as humble and understanding. He has had a huge role in encouraging Margret to always work hard through his commitment to providing for his family. Ackim knows the expectations that are placed on Margret to take care of the home and make sure everything is clean and in order, while also caring for the kids when needed. But he’s happy he could have a place for his niece to stay and go to school. Ackim is grateful to Arise and Margret’s sponsors for helping the family with the burden of paying for school fees. Margret says, “taking care of the home can sometimes be hard, stressful, and tiresome, but it’s helped me think quickly, given me a new perspective on work, and I even learned how to make a budget! As children, we don’t think about where the money for our food and clothing comes from, or how our parents struggle for our sake. I’m learning that first hand.” She is learning how to be responsible and trustworthy.
Margret’s Child Sponsorship Director, Susan, has known her since she was a young child. Susan quickly describes Margret as “a fighter! She understands where she is coming from and that is why she works so hard.” Susan has seen Margret shine even through her hard and dark days. Nancy and Gwebe, Arise Africa Child Sponsorship Officers, say Margret is gifted, special, and knows what she wants.
Gwebe remembers a time he really got to know Margret. He asked some of the students to write letters to their future selves. Margret shared she was bullied and called names growing up because of her very tall height. It made her not want to go to school. In her letter, she reminded herself of her aunt’s words. Her aunt taught her that it doesn’t matter what people think or say about you. She’s learning to love who God has made her to be and she lives this out each day. (Ironically, her best friend, Grace, is averagely short!) Our staff agrees it’s easy to forget the pain and hardship she goes through every day because of her positive attitude. Margret encourages our staff with her bright smile, uplifting energy, and hard work. She is learning to inspire everyone around her to be the best versions of themselves.
Her Best Friend
The most influential person in Margret’s life has been her best friend Grace. Margret has known her since the first grade. Grace is friendly, caring, and hard-working. The impact Margret has had on Grace is reciprocated. Grace describes Margret as someone who always tells the truth, and an encourager who is not afraid to challenge or correct others when needed. Grace says, “She has always been there for me. She has encouraged and spoken into my pains and struggles. She has loved me unconditionally. She’s like a sister to me and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without Margret.” It’s beautiful to see how they have lifted each other up and continue to walk with each other through good times and bad. She is learning to love without limits or reservation.
When asked what the Lord has been teaching her recently about the challenges she has faced, Margret shares, “God has taught me to be strong and patient and that nothing is impossible with Him. A verse I love so much is Matthew 19:26. Everyday, despite the challenges that I face, I know that God will see me through.”
She is so grateful to be in school and believes it is where she can become all that she wants to be. Her sponsorship and sponsors, Chelsey and Alan, mean more to her than words can describe. She would not be where she is today if it were for her education.
“Pray that I may achieve my goals, and do something different from my family, something that has never been done before!”
Sponsorship gives students like Margret a voice, a place to grow, learn, and be seen and lifted up by our staff. We are so grateful to be a part of Margret’s story. We invite you to sponsor a student and join us in walking alongside many more children in Zambia!