Mulenga is a Lecturer at the Copperbelt University.
Being born poor is not a choice but staying poor is !!!
My name is Mulenga Muma and this is my story.
I am the second born in a family of 3, My dad passed away when I just started my grade 1, in Luanshya. After his death, a lot changed, the things we took for granted suddenly became a luxury. Life in Luanshya became too expensive for my mother so she decided that we move to our village in Kasama, Northern province. The loss of a father will always sting, as it leaves a huge hole that can never be filled.
My mother tried her level best to ensure we never slept on an empty stomach but it felt like the harder she tried the more challenges were thrown at her. Seeing how my mother struggled made me work hard because she sacrificed so much for my siblings and I. Adjusting to the village life was so hard for my siblings and I as we relied on hand to mouth most of the times, life was very hard for my family.
My mum was a primary teacher, who struggled hard to ensure that we have the basic needs. Even though we were struggling, mum still kept a number of relatives (dependents). Mum believed in always sharing the little she had and always taught us to never give excuses to help others.
My mother always says, Ifya kulya tafichepa ifichepa fyakufwala. This is a Bemba proverb meaning Food is never too little to be shared .
Despite the difficulties we encountered, she always encouraged my siblings and I to work hard and never have any excuses to not do our best in everything we do in life. We took our studies seriously as we knew it would be our only key out of poverty.
I always topped my class in every grade such that the time I completed my grade 12 at Mungwi Technical secondary school in Northern province, I was one of the best.
There is nothing nice about being vulnerable or helpless. Reality sunk in when I got my 12 results and had no one to help me through my tertiary education. I broke down when the thought of working so hard yet not having anyone to help meet my needs kicked in. A child should never go through such pain I thought to myself as I walked down the road leading home.
Was I being too ambitious, Was this going to be the way my dreams die? Was I meant for greatness, What is my destiny, All these were questions ran through my mind.
My dream was to study at the Copperbelt university, at that time I did not know how I would manage to pay my tuition fees all I knew was that I was going to apply and the rest would follow.
I applied at the Copperbelt university and was accepted, with the help of my friends I got to know about Bursaries Committee (BC) in 2008 which is now Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB). I applied and had faith that I would be among the many whose name would be published in the newspaper of having been granted bursary(loan).
I knew where I was coming from and how much the Loan meant to me and my family. I remember how much I prayed and hoped for my name to be on list of successful applicants. A full sponsorship would really lift a huge burden off my mothers shoulders I always thought to myself.
A few weeks later, the list of selected students who were given a loan at that time was published, I remember how fast my heart was beating that day, for a second I asked myself what my next plan would be if I was not given a loan. Fortunately, my name was among the selected applicants who were given 100 percent loan.
I have a Bachelors Degree in Physics with Education and I was the best graduating student in my Department. Due to my outstanding performance, the Copperbelt university brought me back and sponsored me to acquire a Masters degree in the same field, and later appointed me as a lecturer in the school of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
I commend the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board for stretching out to other Universities. I am a proud beneficiary of the loans and I am not ashamed to say I started paying back my loan 2 years ago because I know my money can help someone in need and can change their life.
There many people in rural areas who are intelligent and are in need of sponsorship. Loans are only sustainable if beneficiaries pay back. Let us save a future.