My Name is Witness Niini Lesariko. I am from Tanzania. Honestly, my life has been a blessing – a living testimony. I have loved how God has brought important people into my life. He uses us together for His purpose. These people are making it possible for me to go to school and that means they are helping me achieve my dreams. Before, I could only wonder if I would ever be educated.
My dad ran away from home when I was 5 days old. All through I have never enjoyed dad’s love even to the tiniest bit. I have seen daddies who are everything to their little girls, but for me, I did not know mine. I simply have grown up to know my mother as the only parent I have.
He left my mum with nothing to help us survive. My mum had to look for odd jobs around our home to get food for my older brother and me. This is not what a mum who has just given birth would be expected to do, but she just could not sit idle and let us suffer and cry. Little children don’t understand.
It was not easy growing up with all these challenges. Nevertheless, through God’s grace we did manage to get where we are today. I studied for my entire primary school education in Tanzania and I joined high school there.
I had to bear up with missing classes from time to time due to lack of school fees. The little money that my mum got was not even enough to supply us with two simple meals a day. The teachers were not keen on us missing and they would not allow us to make up the work we missed. But without fees, there was little choice. The schools sent us away. I devised some means of surviving in school. It became heavy on my heart because I was being dishonest, but it was all I could do by then. I would be sent home for fees but I never left the place. I would sneak back to class and keep avoiding my teachers. I knew they were tired of my excuses but I just had to be in class. I knew a good education was the only wealth I had and there was no way I was going to let the opportunity go just like that.
Though I couldn’t understand then why this had to happen to me, I now know for sure that God had great plans for me – more than I could actually dream of.
First, we had visitors to our school. They were students from the USA and our teacher assigned each one of us to partner with one of them. I got Talia. I could not speak English, not even a word, but I enjoyed her company so much. When the students left, many of them gave gifts to us, but I found a way to tell Talia I only want education.
I will never forget the year 2009 – It is the year that God brought His angels in my life. They traveled 17 1/2 hours, across Kenya and into Tanzania, only knowing that I lived in Arusha Tanzania…. and they came to find me. I could not imagine how anyone would do this great thing to another person. When I saw the car arrive at my school, my heart felt as if it was beating outside of my chest! I was really shaking. These angels from Matanya’s Hope had come all that way for me!
Matanya’s Hope has since transformed my life. Erica – my sponsor has proved to be my heaven sent. I honestly do not know where I would be without her support. Being sent home from school for fees was never to be my reality again.
Through Matanya’s Hope, I met many new friends from Kenya and the USA. GG is one who has imprinted my life; each mission, she teaches me poetry that makes me feel love and hope. She has shared stories with me that make me feel so alive.
Yes. I should say this too; Kenya education standards are much higher than in my own country, Tanzania. In Tanzania, the curriculum is purely in Swahili while in Kenya, most of the curriculum is purely in English. I know it sounds funny, but I did not any English words. Not a single one – except for “hello”. It was a foreign language to me, but, I had to master it for the sake of my studies in Kenya. For the first few months, I could only stare at my books and pray and really cry. The entire world was foreign for me. It was not easy. Matanya’s Hope continued to encourage me. They promised me it would be like a flame; once I started to understand English, the whole world would feel brighter. Despite the pain, I believed too much in my dream; I never allowed myself to give up.
Even when last year, God called my precious mum home. Matanya’s Hope surrounded me with love and many traveled with me all those miles to support me during the days of burial. During that heartbreak, my father tried to find me and marry me off, but I refused to entertain such silliness.
I can tell you for sure I am a different Lesariko now….not the one Matanya’s hope found buried deep in the dust because of poverty! I am finding my voice as a girl and I am growing into a strong, determined woman. I will make a difference in this world and I will help others to do so, like Matanya’s Hope is helping me.
I am in my fourth year in High school. As you can see, I can now speak English. I am still learning, but it is true; the flame is lit. I believe I am going to make it.
I want to tell every one reading this that God is not a human being – even if all were to leave us, He will always stick with us.
I wish to thank my sponsor Erica and Matanya’s Hope founder, Michelle Stark, for the incredible work they are doing. In addition, to all those who are sponsoring a child, please know it in your heart that your sacrifice is changing a life somewhere. I could have been married off long ago, and even last year, but now, I am the symbol of Hope through God’s hand and yours, through Matanya’s Hope.
To Erica my sponsor, you are a great gift – my treasure. I adore you.
To my mum, I shall honor you in all my days.
Witness Niini Lesariko