Ashler’s parents died about 12 years ago in a traffic accident. She told us, “My parents suffered a lot and struggled just to have food for the family. They meant everything to me and when they died, I realized that I was going to be an orphan and I felt very lonely.
Ashler, her little sister, Lucy and their 3 brothers were taken in by some neighbors to live in their mud hut but they had no income nor even a subsistence garden to grow food. Ashler (14) says “They were not very responsible or helpful. We would sometimes go without food for a full week. One of my brothers died for lack of food. I could not get even the basic personal things that I needed. My brothers were often sick and sometimes starving and have been unable to go to school.”
My older brother tried hard to help us and make us happy but then he left us. Because I was the oldest girl, my siblings looked to me to provide food for them. I couldn’t see them suffering and starving so decided to take Lucy and go far away to a place where I could get a job, maybe as a housemaid, so we could get food. I couldn’t watch her die of starvation. It helped me realize how hard my parents had worked.”
Ashler came to Achungo 8 years ago and was happy to find it much different than her prior school. She says that school was, “in very poor shape and not even performing. It was in a mud and thatch building that was too small for us and that leaked so much in the rains that we all got wet. It was several kilometers from my home and I had to walk each day. That was very tiring for me. That’s why I have been so happy from the day I set foot at Achungo. The buildings and compound are very nice. Achungo’s students perform so well that there is no comparison with my former school. Achungo has really improved my life and I am so happy to be able to learn even though I cannot pay school fees.”
Ashler wishes she could find a way to help her siblings but Lucy has died of starvation and she doesn’t know where her brothers are. Ashler’s uncle lives nearby and she stays with him during breaks.
“When I am through with my studies, I would like to be a lawyer – that is my dream. I want to make every citizen get their rights. When I grow up I will also build and manage an orphanage. I will not let any child go through what I have gone through. I love Achungo and that’s all.”