Interview with Linda Zuwawo. A DCTAfrica Sponsored Student
In January 2012, Paul Lundu, a DCTA Representative interviewed Linda Zuwawo. Here is a sample of the interview.
Fifteen year old Linda Zuwawo is one of the new students who have qualified for DCTA sponsorship. As is the case with many students that the non profit puts on scholarship, she is from a very poor background. She is an orphan. In this interview she explains more about her situation and how much she appreciates being on the list of DCTA sponsored students.
My name is Linda Zuwawo. I come from Eneya village, Traditional Authority Kwataine, in Ntcheu district. I am the firstborn of three children, both girls born to my mother. I am the firstborn and I am 15 years old. The second born is Martha who is 9 yeas old. And the third born is Chisomo who is one year old. We are orphans. Our mother passed away last year, 2011, on 20th January. She died two days after giving birth to our step sister, Chisomo. Our biological father passed away in 2009.
What is life like with you as an orphan?
Terrible! It is very terrible. We lack even the very basic necessities like food. My grand mother does not work and she is an old woman. It is hard for her to take care of us including Chisomo who is only one year old now. Our stepfather, Chisomo’s father passed away in a road accident about seven months before Chisomo’s birth. This leaves all responsibility with my grandmother. So for us to get food we send Martha to beg at the trading center. This we do when we have run out of the little food we are able to produce. We try hard but it is not easy for the poor like us to produce enough food for the whole year- I am sure you understand what I mean.
Yes I do and I am very sorry for that. But how do you help your family get what you need?
Apart from working in the field, I also go for begging though not so often. I hate begging, and I fear that some evil men or boys can rape me. Some girls in my situation just go into prostitution. My friends advise me to do the same and provide for myself and my sisters. You can be rest assured that I cannot do this. I have strong reasons for not doing it. I know I can hardly do more than what I am able to do now to change our financial situation or I will be forcing matters the wrong way. My hope however is in what the future has in store for me, now that I have been included in the DCTA family. I work hard in class and I promise you that if all goes according to plan, I will change the history of my family through this foundation that you are helping me lay now.
How safe is Martha in this business? Does she find time to go to school?
No, she is not safe at all. Many a time she comes back home with tears flooding her cheeks because some naughty boys have snatched her all what she has labored for from morning to evening. Yes, in spite of all this, Martha goes to school and she is in standard six.
What about your other relations like your uncles, aunts, what do they do to help?
We do not have any other relatives. My grandmother had nine children and none of them are still living-they are all dead. My mother was the last to die.
This is a national Secondary School and it is a rare opportunity to be here. How did you feel when you learned about your selection to this school?
I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. I was happy because I had been selected to a wonderful school that can help shape my future; but at the same time I was sad because I knew I would not be able to get school fees unless someone came in to help. My grandmother reminded me of what I already knew that she could not pay for my school fees at this school.
I knew of many poor students like me who have failed to go on with their education in spite of being selected to a good secondary school like this one. However, someone encouraged me to come and report for classes and see if someone would come to my rescue. That is what I did. I told myself that if no one was willing to help, I would return back home with a very sad face, but I wanted to try my luck as hard as possible first.
And as if it was a dream, I saw DCTA representatives coming to interview me for scholarship. I prayed hard for consideration. And you cannot imagine how much joy fills my heart since the day you told me that I now have someone who will be paying school fees for me. I never dreamed I would be so lucky, and I am very thankful to DCTA, for changing my destiny.
Just after the holiday we tried to reach you by phone using the phone number you gave us but we could not succeed, did you give us a wrong number?
No, it was not a wrong number. It was the only phone number I knew belonging to someone who knew my grandmother. The phone however was already sold by the time I went home for holiday. That is why you could not reach me.
What else would you like us to know about you?
It should be known that I am very thankful to DCTA for paying school fees for me. I wish I met my connection in person and express how thankful I am for this wonderful love for me. I am not asking for more assistance but I know that I am like a daughter to my connection so I am sure I can mention some more challenges that I still have. I suffer from stomach ulcers, and as I am talking to you, I have just come from hospital for treatment. But the drugs I get are only for relieving the pain not for completely healing it. I am on special diet and the doctors always advise me to take some milk daily. My financial situation is not in favor of this, and the school cannot provide me with that.
I also have a challenge getting transport money to and from school. I reported late for school this term because of this problem. Also I was stranded at the end of last term. It was the teachers who came to my rescue by contributing some money for my transport home and gave it to me.
In all this however, I want to promise you that I will try as much as possible to make sure that all that is being spent on me will not be regretted. I will try and work very hard in class in order to achieve what I want to achieve in future. I want to pass my greetings to my connection and all the people behind this good work, including the founder of the organization.
How was your progress last term?
I was on position nine out of one hundred and thirteen students in my class.
Being an orphan and having all these other challenges can affect ones performance in class. You seem to be overcoming this, what is your secret?
I am almost always in the company of friends I trust. When I am alone, I focus too much on my problems and most of the time I start crying. But sometimes, I feel rejected by my friends. They avoid me because they think I do not have much to contribute to the friendship. Thank God I have a best friend who understands me. When there is no one to keep me company, I like praying. Also I like reading the word of God or my notes of what I learn in class. This helps me get rid of my worries.
You said you have strong reasons against indulging in an indecent relationship with a man to raise money, what are those reasons?
I know whatever relief I can get from this now is temporary and will soon turn against me and put me even in a worse situation. I can become pregnant at an early age, or contract a disease which can lead to more suffering and then death. This can lead to more suffering to me, my sisters and my grandmother. Even if I had a way of avoiding these problems, still I cannot do this because I know this kind of relationship is not for a teenager like me. It affects ones education. And to do that all for the sake of getting out of poverty is very wrong. My body is not for sale.
What do you want to become in future?
I want to become an accountant. I like that job because I know many people do not manage finances properly because they are not good at mathematics. I am good at mathematics and I am sure I can be one of the best accountants in this country.
Thank you very much, Linda for being so open with us. On behalf of all the DCTA team, I wish you all the very best in your studies.
You are welcome. It has been a pleasure to talk to you, sir. You are welcome to ask me for any further information you want to know about me. Again, thank you very much for this wonderful contribution to my life. May God bless each and every one who is involved in this great work.