My name is Chrissy Zimba. I was born on 15 September 1987 in a family of four children and I am the first born. I am working as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Mzuzu SMART Centre which is in partnership with Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation under Water department at Mzuzu University. I have a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which I obtained from Mzuzu University in 2012.
My father was a primary school teacher and he passed away in 1999. Life started to become tough for me and my siblings as my mother was not working my father was solely the bread winner. We moved to my home District Mzimba boma from Ekwendeni. My mother started doing small scale businesses and at times she would leave me alone with my siblings for about three months and I had to look after my siblings I was just 13 years old by that time and I was in standard eight.
I wrote my Primary School Leaving Certificate Exams and got selected to Ekwendeni girls because my mother could not manage paying for my school fees, Mnjiri community day secondary school was another option for me. So I started my form one at Mnjiri in 2001. I did my first term and second term at Mnjiri then went in my mother’s home village Euthini for my second term holiday. And I did not go back in Mzimba Boma after the holiday ended and I just decided to finish my form one studied at a community day which was in the area.
My grandfather was a very hard working man. He would wake us up very early in the morning to start working in the garden. It was our custom that each day before we start doing our things like other household chores we should start by working in the farm. One fateful morning on Dec 4 in 2001 I woke up to start clearing the garden ready to start making ridges as we always used to do. After doing everything that night me with my siblings decided to pick mangoes before we go home and start doing other household chores.
I climbed a tree which was about eight metres high. As I was picking mangoes the brand which was holding my weight broke and I fell on my back. I didn't know what happened to me afterwards as I fainted after falling. I just discovered I was lying on the ground at my aunt’s house and that everyone who was around at my village that time came to where I was laid down.
After I asked my grandmother she told me that I was lying there for about two hours. I didn't know what happened because I just thought I had fallen from a tree. And that I broke something in back and thought it wasn't really a serious thing! One thing that surprised me was when I tried to wake up I felt great pain in back so I knew I had broken my back! Another great surprise was that I wanted to put one leg on top of the other but I discovered I can’t move my legs. I got confused I didn't know what really happened! I was taken to Euthini health centre which was about two kilometres from where I was staying. I stayed at the hospital (Health centre) for about three days. After the doctor realized that my condition was getting worse he referred me to Mzimba district hospital where it was confirmed that I broke my spine at T12 after they did an x-ray on me and then I was laid on my back on a hard board as part of my treatment for three months. I developed very big pressure sores as a result of lying on the hardboard. I was admitted for 3 months and then was referred to Mzuzu Central hospital.
I didn't know what to do and I started question God why he let such a thing happen to me. I cried upon hearing the news for two reasons:-
- How would I continue school as the school I used to go to was a day school and I was just 14 by then.
- As a young teenager to me life was full of fun and playing with friends.
Life started to become tough for me. When I got discharged in June 2002, I found my friends preparing for their Junior Certificate exams and I thought that was the end of me because I couldn't go to school on the wheelchair as the school that I used to go to was about a kilometer from home. My friends went ahead and wrote their exams and I just gave up on school and I thought to myself that was it. My future ruined. When I see my cousins and friends playing netball it would always tear me down as I liked playing netball before my accident. I would not easily accept life on the wheelchair as I missed a lot of fun! As a result I ended locking myself in a room and wish I was dead!
One day my teachers from my school came to see me Mr. GVT Kumwenda (now REV) and Mr. Soko. They suggested that they would be borrowing me books and that I should start studying and register for my Junior Certificate exams in 2003. I started studying at home and one day Rev Nyondo came to my village after he got informed about me by my physiotherapist (Sheila Lawrence) who offered to pay for my Junior Certificate exams registration fees. During weekends my teachers would come home and help me with my studies. I wrote the exams and passed with flying colors! I realized I would still make it though I was on the wheelchair.
I went to Our future PVT secondary school and started my form three in 2004 I joined school in second term. Life was hard for me at the school as I had to battle with pressure sores. I got admitted at the hospital for about three months in the middle of my third term in my form three. I did not give up because I now realized that with God on my side no matter how tough the situation that I am found in might be but I knew I would always rely upon God and that HE will pull me through the situation. I wrote my MSCE and passed with 20 points. To me that was great because I considered all the times that I missed classes because I was down with pressure sores. The three months that I was admitted at the hospital because of the pressure sores.
I applied for enrollment at Mzuzu University and I got selected in second selection unfortunately I did not know that I have been selected as I was staying in the village where when I don’t listen to the news on my radio because I don’t have the batteries I wouldn't know what’s happening in my country.
So I registered for my PAEC Certificate in Financial Accounting at SIMARD then Skyways Business college in 2007. I continued to battle with pressure sores at Skyways as the hostels were in Mapale and I had to go in town for classes every day. I was also re-admitted at Mzuzu Central Hospital because of the pressure sores.
I should salute my sister Modester who was always there for me. She pushed me to school each and every morning while she was also attending school herself by then she was in form two. I wrote the accounting exams and I was the only girl who passed the exams out of 8 girls and we were 20 all together.
I decided to give it another try to apply for admission at Mzuzu University and fortunately I was selected to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information and Communication Technology. Life at Mzuni was also challenging as most of the classes are not wheelchair friendly. Some of the places at this institution of higher learning are not really wheelchair passable. I still had to battle with pressure sores until third year of my studying at Mzuzu University. I finished my studies at Mzuzu University last year and I have a bachelor of science in Information and communication technology.
I should thank Mrs Jodi McGill as she helped me a lot through financial help and advice. She was always there for me. She would get me to the hospital when there was need to do so. Without your help Mrs. McGill I wouldn't be where I am today. You are like a mother to me.
I thank Mzuzu University Administration staff for all the support you renderd to me the years I was studying at Mzuni.
I thank my siblings:- Modester, Spencer and Kennedy for helping me and understanding my problem, you are a blessing to me.
My mother is another person who tried hard to make it all happen.
Above all I thank God who put the right persons in my life at the time that I exactly wanted them. for my studies to go well at Mzuni.