Growing up, Doricca Kanshulu had many unanswered questions.
As a teenager, she wondered about her identity and why she didn’t grow up with her parents like other children.
There were times she wished her parents were there for her because she couldn’t handle some difficulties on her own.
Doricca lost her mother when she was two and her father at seven years old. She was raised by her siblings.
Life’s challenges taught her resilience and because of a difficult upbringing, she has a big heart for vulnerable children who can’t afford education.
She co-founded Canopy Learning Centre in Thyolo in August last year.
The centre offers free nursery school education to vulnerable children and those from less privileged homes.
Doricca said at Canopy Leaning Centre, they believe every child deserves to learn so, they give them a chance to education.
“It pains me to see little children with no access to education because their parents can’t afford to pay school fees and have no food to eat before school,” she said.
She confessed that since the establishment of the centre, children who come for parallel lessons are performing well in class.
She also observed that little children from the nursery class are benefiting because they are now attending school instead of idling at home.
Doricca added that they have also employed people who take care of children.
“Our goal is to ensure society has responsible people in future because once these children are deprived of education, they definitely will be the ones causing problems.
“We want them to be productive members of society and be self-reliant. We want to establish small businesses to employ more people and use the profits to help the centre,” she said.
Doricca said it feels good to see these children progressing—learning while eating, too.
“We are happy to see the children looking healthier and stronger. We are proud of ourselves and certain that we are moulding people who are going to be productive in the future,” she said.
They serve provide porridge every day since some of them come to school without eating anything from home.
She said:”You will be surprised to hear that most of the times the porridge we offer is their first meal of the day. And we are happy to see them smiling. We also provide uniforms and shoes with the help of well wishers.”
Doricca is a primary school teacher working for government.
She said: “It’s not easy for learners to do well in school, that’s why only well-to-do parents can afford extra lessons. That’s when we decided to intervene to help the poor because we want them to become stars as well.”
Going forward, they would like to enroll more children because many are willing to join them, but limited resources stop them from admitting a large number.
“We want more children to benefit from this centre and we would like to upgrade to secondary school so that we follow up our children easily.
“It is also our dream to introduce a number of activities for skills enrichment to benefit them in the future. These will include drawing, playing musical instruments, singing and gardening in a safe environment,” she said.
Doricca would love to see government consider early childhood education as a priority because nursery schools are a good foundation when it comes to education.
“There is a big gap between children who went to nursery schools and those who did not go. So since most nursery schools are commercial, it should employ early years practioners.
“And also, the government should employ more primary school teachers because the enrollment is high and for the children to do well, it takes the survival of the fittest,” she said.
It’s also Doricca’s dream to see young girls achieve their dreams.
Her advice to girls is to keep on dreaming because with focus, that dream will eventually become true.
“They should trust God’s process because it sometimes looks as if it’s taking time, but just be patient. Be grateful to God always,” she said.
The teacher said her upbringing contributed to the woman she is today.
She disclosed that for her to reach this far, it’s all because of good friends who love and understand her.
“My friends are Naomi Heidrich and Enock Daisi who are also my co-founders. We have been working together in building the centre even though they are not in the country.
“We run it using our own resources, but sometimes we get well wishers who support us. It is not easy, but since it is something we are passion about,” she said.
Naomi is a social worker while Enock is a teacher.
Doricca added acknowledges who she said are supportive and without whom she would have been somewhere in the village doing piece works, hopeless.
She admitted that it is not easy to balance family and work, but ensures everything is in order at the centre while making time for her daughter as well.
She is thankful to have a team of sponsors that help to pay monthly salaries for teachers.
Doricca is from Mponera, Dowa Traditional Authority Dzoole. She stays at Bvumbwe in Thyolo.
She was born in a family of seven, four boys, three girls and she is the the last born.
She is a single mother to a daughter who she said gives her courage to go on.
Doricca teaches at Kankhomba Primary School and has a certificate in early childhood development.
During her free time, she likes to hang out with her family and friends, singing as she is also a member of her church choir.