Constance Gwarawaziva, a 35-year-old single mother of two beautiful children, has had the odds stacked against her time and time again. But with tears in her eyes and determination in her heart, she has overcome by investing in herself under very difficult circumstances. She talked to The Weight She Carries and walked us through her journey so far.
I grew up in Karoi (Zimbabwe) and attended primary school there. For my secondary level, I relocated to Chinhoyi to live with my mom’s sister [who] was nearer to the school.
During one of the sporting events at school, I got badly injured on the leg but did not get the adequate care from my aunt. So, I asked my mother if I could come home, and that’s how I went back to live with my parents.
I did not do well in my studies in 2001, and the following year, I got married. I was 19 years old, but the marriage turned out to be horrible because my husband, mother-in-law as well as sister-in-law were very mean to me.
It was so bad because my mother-in-law threatened to disown her son if he did not divorce me. My sister-in-law would spread lies about me just to turn my husband against me, and eventually, they won because after five years, we went our separate ways.
My daughter and I returned home to live with my parents. Soon [after], I met my second husband who was a local businessman. It did not take long for me to know that the man was mean and abusive. He wanted to force me to get an abortion after I let him know I was pregnant. When I refused, I was forced to spend nights outside the house countless times. I could not take it anymore, and so once again, I returned home.
As all this was taking place, the economic situation in the country was deteriorating. With no income and two children to care for, I made the tough decision to go to South Africa to find work to help with the caring of my kids. It was a very difficult decision as I had to leave my 10-month-old son behind.
In South Africa, finding work was no easy feat. The first job I landed was picking strawberries on a farm. It was backbreaking work with sunburns and long hours. After two months at the farm, I then moved on to being a housekeeper to mean people as sometimes, I would go without food even after doing all my work.
I could not take it anymore, so I quit and went back home for the Christmas holidays.
When I got home, my son did not recall who I was, and that hurt me a lot. But with time, we were reacquainted.
In 2011, the following year, I made my way back to South Africa to find work, but the only work available was farm work once again. I was desperate, but as I was preparing to go to the farm, I was called in for an interview for housekeeping work. I was very happy as I did not want to work at a farm. This particular job paid well – so I was able to bring both my kids to South Africa to live with my sister who was in another town.
Tragedy struck in 2016 when my sister fell very ill. I took her back home, but unfortunately, she passed away a week after I had left her. We were devastated. It was very difficult for us at the time because on top of everything, my kids were alone in another city.
After the funeral, as I was coming back to work, I received a notification from my employers that my services were [no longer] required. I was hopeless because everything was falling apart everywhere I turned.
It took me over two years to recover from the death of [my sister], losing a reliable place of employment, the breaking off of my engagement to another death when my sister-in-law passed away.
In 2016, I found another job as a housekeeper. It was during one of the church services that one of the ladies encouraged me to take up an accounting diploma. I was very sceptical at first because I had failed my studies, and on top of that, I had only done accounting for two years at school. But she encouraged me and even showed me other ladies who had completed this particular diploma and went on to find better work. And so, I took up the course, but it has been a bumpy ride. From financial difficulties to the father of my second child passing away, it has been very difficult.
I remember one of the days I just broke down in tears. I had no bus fare to take myself to school. The leg injury I incurred in school has always made it difficult for me to walk sometimes, and this was one of those times when the leg would not allow me to walk the long distance to school.
At that moment, I almost gave up, but because of the encouragement from my family, employers and churchmates, I pressed on. One of my classmates in her 50s always pulled me up when the going was tough. From the very beginning, the road was tough, but I never gave up even though I felt like it. No matter how many times I failed subjects, I rewrote until I passed them all.
For now, I am working on my resume as I await graduation in March 2021 in the hopes that I [can] leave housekeeping behind and move on to something else.
To all the ladies out there, it is possible. I never thought I could do it but I did.