Child-headed families have become the norm over the years due to various circumstances – mostly very painful ones. Christine* narrated to The Weight She Carries how she experienced such an ordeal first-hand and came out on the other side with her first degree in hand.
“Just before l turned nine, my parents both passed away in the same year (2000), leaving behind six children: me being the fourth, the oldest being 21 and the youngest just 11 months old. Our oldest brother raised us because he was the one with a job at the time. We could see he was trying but there was just never enough for everyone. Eventually, our brother took us to Harare from Bulawayo where he was working and took us through school.”
Christine sat for Ordinary Level exams in 2006 and went on to complete her Advanced Level in 2008 and did quite well. Soon after completing school, she had to look for a job in order to take up the responsibility of caring for the younger siblings since there wasn’t enough income.
“As l was looking for a job, l met the father of my kids,” she continued. “It was beautiful and so in a space of six months, l found myself pregnant with our first child. l was 19 at the time and a year later l was pregnant again with our second child. Unfortunately, things did not work out and he left for South Africa for greener pastures. We lost contact for over a year and l was left alone to take care of the kids. When he left, the oldest was 14 months and the youngest just two weeks old. I got a job shortly after he left. It paid about ZW250 (USD$12.50) which was not enough because l had to look for a (babysitter) and find the cheapest accommodation available.
“It was difficult, and l would cry myself to sleep most nights asking why l had to raise kids all by myself…as if being an orphan wasn’t enough. But I thank my parents for raising my siblings up in a proper way because they would always help me every now and again. If it were not for them, it would have been more difficult.”
Christine experienced a big breakthrough whilst she was employed.
“I felt l needed to advance myself somehow, so l approached the finance manager of one of the company’s divisions with a request for a loan to continue with CIS, which is an accounting profession which l had already begun before l was employed. It was a major breakthrough in my life because at 22, others had not completed college or even begun life. But here l was, a single mom of two, already training in the accounts department. I celebrate that time of my life and l am grateful to God.
“Whilst studying for CIS, which l have not completed as yet, the experience l have led me into another company which is where l began my accounting degree. It is by the grace of God that l managed to complete the degree because l would often skip lectures because of my work situation, but l managed to complete it with a 2.1. It was during the very last day of exams that l got a phone call for an interview which got me a promotion to supervisory level at just 29. I am grateful to God for He has not only guided but has kept me up to this day and preserved me.
To other women, Christine advises that “they should never sell themselves for income; in fact, persevere, keep your focus, build yourself and focus on your strengths and work hard for the future is bright.”
In the meantime, Christine aspires to reach the apex which is to be a Chartered Accountant and is hoping to be get married someday.
*Not her real name