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Not always material aid is enough for the growth and development of a person. Very often, what one needs is something immaterial, non-tangible, but whose contribution is equally important to the formation of the character of every human being. Small daily encouragements people around us can offer play a fundamental role. A slap in the face of those who think that material goods are everything one needs in life. “Nourish your soul, not just your stomach”, Theresa uses this phrase to describe her experience in a family home of the Pope John XXIII Community.

Her story is emblematic: after having lost her parents, Theresa and her sister had nowhere to go.  But the encounter with sister Ruth who took to heart their situation, has allowed them to be housed in a structure, Holy Family, in Zambia, that belonged to the Association founded by don Oreste Benzi. At the beginning, the little girl who came from a “compound”, that is a poor district on the outskirts, failed to become a part of the daily routine of the family. An obstacle was the girl’s poor knowledge of English, but especially her mistrust towards life, a consequence of having lived at the margins of the society.

Only due to love shown by Tina, the “mother” of the house, she has managed to overcome, day by day, difficulties that at the beginning seemed mountains she had to climb. Going to school – she had to quit it previously due to her father’s illness – cultivating a profound bond with the other guests of the structure, receiving assistance with her every-day problems, gradually allowed Theresa to overcome the harshness of her past and helped her to achieve her goals.

“Sometimes even tenacity, courage, desire to make it are not enough to get to realize one’s dreams – explained Theresa -. In some cases, such as my own, material aid alone does not suffice. Human incentive and motivation are needed. Due to the family home I was welcomed in, and where I have been nourished ‘stomach and soul’, I have managed to realize my dream: to be able to help, in my turn, those in need”.

More and more integrated in her new life and having found emotional stability, Theresa graduated from high school with excellent marks. But this was not enough because she wanted to be able to help people who, like herself, came from difficult situations. Thus, not without sacrifice, she enrolled at the faculty of medicine, earning a degree in November 2014. Now she specializes at the University Hospital in Lusaka. Achieving this dream has transformed her into a new, happy woman.

Theresa’s joy, will be soon transmitted to her baby who is about to be born. Her motivation and commitment as a student derived from the fact that the girl has always seen education as a real possibility of redemption, unfortunately not available to everyone. In fact according to a report issued in January 29, 2014 by Unesco – the UN organization that protects education, science, and culture – there are about 57 million children in the world who do not have access to education. The most disadvantaged are girls, especially those who live in the poorest and rural areas. Many children do not go to school because they work (215 million worldwide) or because they live in war zones (according to estimations, 250 thousand children are involved in conflicts).

The population with the lowest rate of child education lives in Africa, where 4.5 million children do not go to school. In Sub-Saharan Africa one child out of three is denied the fundamental right to education. The drama of illiteracy has a marked effect on the children’s life conditions: unable to access and understand the basic principles of civil coexistence, they prevented from demanding more freedom as adults. To this should be added poverty, discrimination and abuse.

Lack of education deprives a person of its potential and undermines the development of a society, since it is fundamental to the improvement of health, alimentation, and productivity. Education is therefore an important tool for ensuring human and economic wellbeing to every person. At present, 60% of the countries do not seem to be able to guarantee the full implementation of this right by 2015. In India, the country in which live half of the illiterate children around the world, the proportion is that of 1 teacher every 147 male minors and 6 teachers every 800 females. An intolerable situation that requires the intervention of the international community as soon as possible. So that Theresa who was born poor and has become a doctor stops to be merely a wonderful exception.

Loosely based on Always

Translated by Ecaterina Severin

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