Shija walked up and stood beside the sign he painted. It read, “UNBOUND,” and colorful figures formed the logo beside the name.
Shija, a sponsored youth, painted the sign at the request of the local office in Tanzania. The staff knew he would be a good candidate for the job because he’s an artist who’s going to school for fine arts and graphic design.
“I was happy,” Shija said about painting the sign. “They believed in me to give me a chance to do it. … Unbound has been a great source of inspiration to me. They believe in my talent.”
Shija, 23, has been part of the sponsorship program for the past 10 years. His mother, Joyce, is the sole provider for him and his siblings.
Joyce was struggling financially to support the family, and school fees were expensive. But Shija was able to go to school with help from his sponsor.
“Through sponsorship I am able to go to college and pursue my dream,” Shija said. “My mother would not have been able to afford taking me to school. … I would not have made it this far [without]my sponsor’s dedication and goodwill.”
With his school fees paid, Shija could focus on his studies, and his talents. He said he always had a talent for drawing, as did one of his brothers who passed away. He remembers looking up to his brother and wanting to be just like him.
“As a child I would look at him drawing and admire his talent,” Shija said. “I started imitating him, and soon enough I was good.”
Shija is focused on his subjects and is learning much about the world of art. He’s studying painting, drawing, screen-printing and much more. He credits his passion for design for helping him stay in school and off the streets.
“My love for arts has kept me busy,” he said. “If I was idle, I would have been prone to peer pressure from the community I live in.”
His other reason for staying focused is his love for his mother. Shija said she’s always been there for him and his siblings. She was his cheerleader and his support system growing up.
“My mother is the reason I keep doing my best,” he said. “She taught me to never lose hope.”
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