Children from the Film
Obert, Esther & Tino
Many years ago now Esther, Grace and Obert told their stories to millions of viewers. Their lives changed overnight. But we did not stop there – we continued to fund raise and now over 5,000 children benefit from our programmes. As they grow up and forge their own paths – how have their stories changed the lives of other children? More information can be found here.
Obert - Before
Obert is widely known in his area for being one of the most intelligent boys in the school, yet we see his grandmother reduced to pleading for mercy not to have him sent home, because she cannot pay 50 cents! One scene shows them trying to eat off the bones of a tiny bird to survive. Obert is acutely aware of what an education can do for him when he says… “As a child I don’t think poor children should be chased away from school. The law that means children are sent home is bad, we should just be able to learn…
Esther - Before
Nine year old Esther was responsible for looking after her two year old sister and her dying mother who has HIV/AIDS. Attending school is a dream far out of her reach since they both depend on her solely. She tells us of her daily routine in the most angelic voice, which includes “cleaning her mother when she poos herself” and talks about the hopelessness of her life when her mother dies – “I told her when she dies I will get into the grave with her. I just want mummy looking after us and sending us to school
Grace - Before
Grace lives with her younger sister and father in a township just outside of Harare. They barely survive by searching for plastic bottles in rubbish dumps and depositing them at the local market. Grace and her sister are sent home from school on the first day of term. With tears streaming down her face she explains “If I cannot go to school, I won’t have a good life, because I won’t have had an education”. Their father felt completely helpless in trying to provide for his two young daughters.
Obert - After
After missing school for nearly two years, Obert still managed to pass the difficult entrance exam into a top boarding school. He worked hard and achieved very good grades – having many proud moments. Every school holidays Obert would return home to his hut to spend time with his loyal and proud grandmother (Gogo) and friends. Obert's request was to… “please carry on assisting the school which I came from so the children can have a better chance at life”. Obert continued with his schooling right through to A'level when he returned back to a new home with his Grandmother.
Esther - After
After their mother died, and they were left in the care of their abusive uncle, we stepped in and managed to secure a family home for Esther and Tino at SOS Children’s Villages. Having the comfort of a caring guardian meant that Esther was relieved of the burden of looking after her little sister. She started school again and became a happy and cheerful child. Esther takes regular Anti-retroviral medication and receives good nutrition to combat the effects of HIV/AIDS which was passed to her by her mother. Fortunately Tino did not contract the disease and is in good health.
Grace - After
Sadly, Grace and Michelle's father died not long after the film was aired and because their mother had abandoned them at a young age, they lived in their father's extended family home. Thanks to sponsored funding we provided a guardian maid to look after them and assist their elderly, blind grandfather. Both girls went back to school and received better nutrition along with counselling to help them through the trauma of the last few years. Grace continued onto the Young Africa College where she completed an 'Early Childhood Development' course to work as a nursery/pre-school teacher.
Thank you Obert
Obert's story highlighted the dire food challenges of children in isolated rural areas and schools sending children home for non-payment of a small fee. Of all the stories we believe Obert's has seen the most change to children within Zimbabwe. We've worked hard to give children free access back into school and reach over 5,000 more 'Oberts and Esthers' within that area. During the development of Obert's old rural school and community we have created three programs we believe will bring relief and the most beneficial, sustainable outcome for their education and health - feeding minds, conservation agriculture and teacher training. Obert is an adult now; he has successfully completed his school life but decided not to continue further education and chosen a different path. We have made sure Gogo and him have a new home near their extended family. As we continue with our work to alter the cycle of poverty within his community we say thank you for telling your story Obert.
Thank you Esther
Esther's angelic voice and eloquently told story touched the hearts of so many. With the help of SOS Children's Villages and viewers all over the world she started a wonderful new life with her little sister after her mother sadly died. They continue to thrive at SOS Children's village better than we could have ever hoped. However Esther's story did not only change her fate, it opened the door to millions of children throughout Africa. SOS Children's Village had, for the first time, film footage of the life of a child before SOS and they were able to show evidence of the amazing work they do, which attracted large donors who would fund more of their work throughout Africa. At the same time Comic Relief in the UK used their story to show the reality of children's lives in some parts of Africa. Donations came pouring in and hundreds of thousands benefitted. SOS welcomed the baby of Esther's sister Yvette when she fell pregnant on the streets and had no where to turn. Thank you for telling your story Esther.
Thank you Grace
Watching these two young ladies rummage through the rubbish sites on the edge of a large township was heartbreaking. Tears rolled down Grace's face as she begged to go back to school. Grace shone the light on how difficult it is for girls living in townships, which we could not ignore. With your support we created a program within a large township assisting grandmothers, single mothers and teenage girls to access education, food and small business start-ups using dormant skills such as dress making. The program gave young girls the chance to fend for themselves rather than be married off at a young age. Many girls have Grace to thank for telling her story so bravely. Grace is now an adult and has finished her education along with her younger sister Michelle who has started a new life with her family. We must continue to reach many more girls just like them so their stories were not told in vain. Please support us to do this. Thank you for telling your story Grace.
We periodically update you on how they are all doing, however we feel they have definitely done their bit and even though we continue to visit and support them where possible, they are also very keen to move forward with their lives, which is only fair. We thank them for telling their stories; we thank you for your generosity – it is only through all of you that we are able to reach and change the lives of Zimbabwe and Africa’s beautiful children. Please continue to support our work, we cannot do it without you.