Alumna Dorothy Dix was able to change her life through getting a good education. Now she works tirelessly to give that opportunity to others.
I was born and raised by a single mother of three in Zimbabwe. She struggled to make ends meet but always taught us that education would be the only way that we could have a better life than she had.
My earliest memory of meeting my father as a child was when he attended prize giving days at school. Having rejected me even before I was born, my young mind soon associated being loved and accepted with performing well at school. Throughout my childhood, I enjoyed learning and would always be found happily immersed in a text book rather than playing. I yearned to experience ‘the good life’ that everyone told me education would bring.
My life changed at sixteen. Having just done well in my GCSEs, my results were published in a national newspaper and I received a full scholarship to study at The Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway with 200 pupils from 85 different countries. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different cultures and languages while forming lifelong friendships. During the summer, I picked strawberries to raise pocket money to come to the UK.
After two years, I received a scholarship from the University of Reading where I studied Psychology and Physiology. I came to Reading with only £70 to my name and a rugged suitcase. I worked part time to cover all my living expenses and when not working, I studied.. Education completely changed my life and opened doors for me that were a dream growing up in Africa. As I walked into The Great Hall on graduation day, I vowed that one day I would give back the gift of education that had been so freely given to me. If I could change one child’s life, my life would be complete.
I started sending my mother money to help orphans that she had met through her church. Gradually word got round and she received increasing requests for support. In 2012, with friends from Reading Family Church, my husband and I set up a charity, Creating Better Futures. I left my paid job to run the charity full time. We give more than 100 children living in poverty the opportunity to go to school and feed 3000 twice a day at school. If one of them can one day achieve their dreams, we will have fulfilled our mission. Creating Better Futures is a small but growing charity based in Reading which is not only improving the outcomes of orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe, but is also having a local impact in Reading and the UK.
Since graduating, I have kept close links with the University of Reading and this year I took part in the celebration of its 90th Anniversary. It was a great honour to feature in the Anniversary video. I hope that I can inspire other students to pursue their passion in life. These links with the University of Reading have led to Creating Better Futures being able to provide summer work experience placements for Reading students. In 2015 three students worked at the Creating Better Futures’ office. Through the internship programme they developed valuable workplace skills and gained experience in digital marketing and event management. This summer we will welcome two more interns from Reading University. We’ve also been able to provide volunteer placements in Zimbabwe for some Reading alumni who spent time assessing potential sustainability projects and seeing how the children we support live. In addition, University of Reading’s RAG chose Creating Better Futures to be one of theirthree designated charities for 2016.
If you are interested in finding out how you can support Creating Better Futures, please visit their website at www.creatingbetterfutures.org.uk.