Dalitso dreams of becoming a teacher

Just like in many villages across rural Malawi, life slows down as the sun sets. Without access to electricity even the simplest of tasks become difficult. The small village of Tembetembe in Malawi, where Dalitso Halario, 13, lives with his parents and four siblings, is no different. After the sun sets, it becomes impossible for Dalitso to study and read, impeding his ability to realise his dreams for the future.

Just like his mum did, Dalitso dreams of becoming a teacher so he can help his parents and his relatives, “I want this job because I admire the way teachers do their job here at the school,”

Dalitso’s mum Emilina, who dropped out of school when she was young because her family couldn’t afford the fees, has the words ‘Dream Chasing’ written on her t-shirt. While she was unable to realise her dreams, she has hope that her children will have a future full of opportunity.

I desired to be a teacher (…) If I went to school my life would have been different. I wouldn’t be living in this house. My dream now is to educate my children until they finish. I also dream of having a good house and some livestock.”

One day, Dalitso came home to his family explaining a new ‘Light Library’ had been introduced at his school. With solar lights provided by SolarAid and books provided by Book Aid International, Dalitso was now able to rent a solar light and a book to bring home with him in the evening, for as little as 1p a day.

Before the Light Library, Dalitso used a battery powered torch to study. Emilina, who does piece work, explains, “Dalitso was using the torch to study, but the light was weaker than the solar lights are (…) The problem was batteries. Sometimes it happened that the batteries finished when I didn’t have any cash to buy new batteries. For this reason, the child couldn’t study because there were no new batteries. But for the solar, we just charge it in the sun and at night he is able to read without any problems.”

The coming of the Light Library brought with it solar lights, books and newfound hope that his dreams could come true. “We did not have the chance to read books even when I started school. But now my school performance is changing because of the library,” says Dalitso and continues, “I borrow books from the library to read and lamps for lighting when I am reading, and if the teacher gives us an assessment I always perform better.”

Emilina has also noticed a change since the Light Library has come to the school, “Dalitso is doing well in school. I think it is because he borrows books and solar lights for studying. He studies regularly with his friend. Every evening the two come together to read with solar lights in their hands. I think these things are assisting him to move forward with his education.”

Like young boys everywhere, Dalitso enjoys playing football and bawo with his friends in his spare time, but with the ability to read after dark, he now spends more time studying with his friends Francisco and Christopher. “The two of us have a place where we read. Even in the class, both of us perform better. At Francisco’s home there is a tree, that is where we go to read,” Dalitso says and continues, “I like reading English books such as ‘Match Joke Book.’ I like reading English books because English is difficult for me”. 

Even though he enjoys studying English, his favourite subject in school is ‘Life Skills’, “I like the subject because it talks a lot about HIV/AIDS, I want to know more about HIV because it’s a deadly disease. So I want to know how to prevent it,” he explains.

While in the future, Dalitso dreams of becoming a teacher, there are also other motivations that inspire him to perform better at school. Dalitso smiles as he says,

Because of school, my appearance will change. People who say I am not good looking will find my appearance very attractive (…) When I finish school, I will be working and earning money and I will be eating well so I am going to be good looking.

The impact of the solar light stretches far beyond textbooks and exams. Now, at Dalitso’s home, the whole family is benefitting from the solar light, “We also use it for lighting in the house when the child has finished studying,” says Emilina, and Dalitso adds that he also lends it to his siblings so they can study when he is finished with it, “We use it to lay a mat for sleeping and during meals.”

Emiliana is proud to see Dalitso studying, “What excited me most is that he works hard in school. I hope to be able to afford education for my children, so that they can finish school and have a brighter future.”

I believe that books are very important. When the children read books they open up their minds.

Access to light and books allows children to wander off into a land of imagination, it powers their dreams and hopes for the future.