I am seeking your help, by Joaquim Balaze

My name is Joaquim Antonio Balaze. I was born on 21 October, 1991 ina place called Barragem. Barragem is in the district of Chokwe in the province of Gaza. Here, neighbourhoods are divided into blocks; I live in the fourth block of a neighbourhood known as Chincanine.  

I am the son of Antonio Chidumo Balaze and Beatriz Romao Muchanga. I have four brothers: two older, two younger. I am the middle son. My two older brothers, Suzario (born in 1981) and Souza (1985) are both unemployed. My two younger brothers, Helio (born in 1994) and Sergio (born 1997) are both at school. Helio attends the 10th grade at a secondary school called ‘Maria da Luz Guebuza-Chincanine’ and Sergio is in the 7th grade at the local primary school in Mohambe.  

My brothers and I lost our mother in 2004 when I was 13-years-old and starting the 6th grade at school. She died on 9 January, 2004 at 9am. She died on her native soil in Mohambe after falling victim to asthma.   In 2004, I returned to be with my father in Chincanine, where I could continue my primary education and, in 2006, I entered into secondary education. However, when I was moving from the 9th grade into the 10th grade at school, in 2009, my father died. He died at dawn on 4 November 2009, inChincanine, from illness.  

The culture in Mozambique decrees that when a man takes a wife into his home, he must pay a dowry to his wife’s family in exchange. This dowry is called a ‘lobolo’. Given that my father had not paid this ‘lobolo’, but had still had children with my mother, myself and my younger brothers had to stay with my mother’s family until someone from my father’s side paid the outstanding dowry. Given the situation, I was obliged to leave my father’s family to be with my mother’s family. I didn’t have to stay with them long, however, as I had to return to school to finish my 10th grade studies. It meant, however, that I had to leave my two youngest brothers behind.  

When I arrived back at my father’s home in Chincanine, my step-mother told me that I couldn’t stay with them, as she had her own children to care for and couldn’t afford to support me as well. She told me to go and stay with my eldest brother, Suzario.  

However, given that my brother was unemployed too, he was not going to be able to bear the costs of my education either. I was therefore forced to look elsewhere for help, which is when I went to see Brother Licinio to ask for help and offer to help with anything that was needed. It was from this point that I started to receive support from CPRPE, which I supplemented with my own jobs. With this support, I successfully passed the 10th grade in 2010.  

Having finished secondary education, Brother Licinio proposed that I stay in a house, known as ‘Machel House’, with other colleagues from Chincanine and said he would help us in any way possible. Without further delay, I accepted this offer, as I had nothing else of importance in my life other than my studies.  

Just before the start of school, a Brother came to see me from a Project for orphans, to see how I could help the project and continue into further education. Subsequently, I gained responsibilities helping the project and, additionally, learned skills as a blacksmith. This process was a marvellous one and at the end of the year I achieved good grades at school.  

I started 2011 with the same responsibilities – but when the year ended I didn’t have the financial means to go to University.   For this reason, I am seeking your help.  

Note: the cost of a yearly university scholarship is only £88/month

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