Story of my life: Unveiling my struggle in my educational journey.

Hi, lovelies. It has been a while. hope we are keeping safe. I am happy to share the good news of my recent graduation in pursuit of a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism and communication and this graduation has inspired me to share my educational story because it is a miracle that i have reached this stage in Education. Below is a summary of my story

Everyone has a story to tell; about their struggle, loss, failure, achievements, success, grief and the list is endless. Every human being has a story for another human being, created by experiences and events that become history yet, possessing a strong potential of shaping people’s futures for better or for worse. Everyone has a tale, whether from grass to grace or rags to riches but, not everyone is good at telling their story because it takes a lot for one to be able to remember their struggle and talk about freely without emotional breakdowns.

I have waited for years to share my story with the entire world but, this is just a part of it because I’m still alive and making more history that probably one day, I will be able to tell it all in its entirety. My purpose of sharing this part of my story is to encourage someone who is or has passed through a similar phase in their life. This is the Wednesday Issue.

My name is Muzhinga Kankinda, born in the beautiful country of Zambia in 1996 in the most beautiful month of August and my story begins, in Eastern Zambia, Nyimba district during kindergarten.

I don’t remember how old I was but, I remember one habit I had at that particular time and this shaped my entire educational journey. I spent my whole kindergarten as a normal child but, I was far from it because I was born with visual impairment yet, everybody including myself were oblivious about this possibility until some time later.

Back then, I had the tendency of sitting near the chalk board thinking it was out of habit yet, it was because my failing sight. Whenever I was late for school, I would find the front seats taken by other children. Then, I would go to the back of the huge class and get another chair which I would put in front of the other chairs so that I could sit in front. Achieving this task was always a struggle because the extra chairs were plopped together hence, superseding my height and strength but, with determination I always made it. This became a major habit despite not understanding why I desperately wanted to sit near the board but, I never shared my experience with anyone.

Soon it was time to leave kindergarten; I went to 1st grade in 2001, the year I began to detest school as I realized that it was different from kindergarten. We had desks instead of plastic chairs and moving them to suit my desires was impossible. I had difficulties learning because I couldn’t see properly and I couldn’t possibly find my way to a front desk when it was already occupied. To make matters worse, I didn’t confide in any one because I didn’t even know I had a problem in the first place. I remember one instance where my mother asked some older girls to take me to school with them because I had refused to go back; obviously it wasn’t a place I wanted to be at anymore. I recall crying as they dragged me to school, running speedily that I had no choice but to run along with them and soon I was back at school, going through the worst days of my life and that was how I spent my first year of school.

Eventually, my mother was transferred to work in Petauke in 2002, another district in Eastern Zambia while, father remained in Nyimba. My mother took me and my older sister to Mizyu Basic School for enrollment. I was supposed to be in 2nd grade but, was taken back to 1st grade due to lack of space. I thought school was going to be hell just like before but, I realized that there was a solution to my problem.

Mizyu Basic School being a government school enrolled lots of pupils hence, the classes where usually filled up and I used this to my advantage. Pupils that went to school earlier would feel up the back spaces while I came in a little late and sat in front near the board; be it on the floor or on a desk if I was lucky to find one with space. This was my new way of revival; to come out of the shell of dullness because obviously I had earned that name back in Nyimba for not doing the right thing in my 1st grade. I began to recover from the feeling of hate I had for school, working harder each day and soon everyone discovered that I was a bright kid.

Consequently by God’s grace, my family began to notice that something wrong with my sight through how I read books and how I couldn’t find things when they were just an inch closer to me. My mother and father took action by traveling to Lusaka Adventist Eye Hospital in Chawama, Lusaka where I met a doctor whom I only remember as Doc. Kaputula. I don’t know what he said to my parents but, I knew from that day that I was visually impaired. Doc. Kaputula prescribed a lense for me and that is how I got my first spectacles.

We went back to Petauke where my mother told my teachers about my condition. Everything seemed great because now I had a desk of my own positioned near the board and I was the kid with glasses, brilliant in school work and I even earned myself nicknames like “professor and doctor”. I totally felt good about myself.

However, this good feeling didn’t last because I was growing up, each day becoming aware of my truth. I suddenly realized that people were good to me; giving me special treatment because of my condition. Knowing that they pitied me, marveled and wondered why a child like me had to face such a problem made me feel bad about myself.

Moreover, I heard teachers talk about it when I walked past them; my fellow pupils talked about it too and soon I began to feel sad and question why.

Suddenly, calling me professor or doctor came to me as an insult, an insignia of mockery to my situation but, that wasn’t all I would have to deal with.

I advanced in grade; and we changed teachers and occupied larger classes which accommodated a few pupils, leaving a large empty space in the middle of the class and in front. How then was I going to be able to sit near the board in order to see what the teachers were teaching us? I recall our teachers grouping us from the most intelligent pupils to the least and my group of the most intelligent pupils, G1 was at the back of the class. I wondered how I was going to learn from the backseat. I failed to ask for help because my ego was finally taking over; yes, I was ashamed of the the fact that people pitied me, I detested that feeling so much I didn’t want to talk about it.

However, I decided I would find a solution to my problem without seeking for help from the teachers. After probing, my mind gave out a solution but, it made me even sadder because I felt it was embarrassing among my peers. My sight was so poor that my lenses couldn’t do much to help unless I was near the board so, I simply had no choice but to put my plan into action.

So, Every time we were learning, I would leave my desk and stoop right in front of the board writing notes, exercise or listening to the teacher’s explanation and when I was tired, I would sit down on floor, alone and attend to my school work but, this whole process was taking a toll on my self confidence and esteem. I didn’t realize I was becoming a sad child with smiles on my face yet, I was getting cold instead and soon it would be manifested outwardly.

I became detached from both family and friends as the feeling of unworthiness settled upon me. I felt useless and cursed and I asked God why he let me go through such pains alone at a young age. I thought he hated me and soon i felt unloved by my own family, I felt I needed to prove my worth to everyone. I was always insecure and seeking for approval and praise for every little thing I did and all the while my sight was deteriorating, changing for the worst.I wrote my grade seven and passed with good grades that I was accepted at Eastern Zambia’s best girls’ school, Katete Girls Boarding school. I went there for my 8th to 12th grades but, my problems were far from ending.

At Katete, I found it hard to cope even more because work became bulky and i had to study more. It came to a point where i had to start going to research on a day’s lessons because i was unable to see what had been taught in class. With nine subjects, research was quite hectic and tiresome but i managed to pull through it especially because i had friends and teachers who supported me. They were able to help out by dictating notes and giving me printed copies of literature. Nonetheless, this was a time when i suffered most from low-self esteem and confidence, lack of self image and ability to think that i was ever good for something. Unfortunately, the bullying i received from other students also made my situation worse. I was able to counter these problems by joining clubs like the Debate club and the Girls Leadership Club. I also took interest in writing poetry, songs and stories as well as Singing, Drawing and Designing. These activities helped boost my self confidence and restore my pride as a human being and i looked forward to improving myself. Furthermore, my family’s support kept me going. It is without no doubt that my mother, father and my siblings’s prayers and support played a vital role in ensuring that i survived my predicament. My mother put in love, time, effort and money to ensure that i was comfortable in my situation. The entire family took me under its wing and cared for me that without them, i wonder where i would be.

In 2013, i wrote my 12th grade final exam and graduated from high school at the age of seventeen and in 2014, I went for eye surgery to correct the Ectopia Lentis (Lens dislocation) that caused my poor sight. I stayed home until i was nineteen. This was the time when i was enrolled in Rusangu University where i started my degree program in Journalism and Communication. At the University i had a goal to graduate with a Suma Cum Laude and i worked hard towards that dream because i realized that in life, i could do anything i set my mind on. After all i had my mother’s blessings. I remember her sitting me down on the day i was to Rusangu University. On that day she blessed me immensely but the words i remember vividly are the words of the scriptures. She said, where you are going, you shall be the head and not the tail. I believe in her words; in her blessings and most of all i believed that God would bless me through her declaration and truth be told, her blessing on my life came to fruition and today, i am proud to say that i graduated with a Cum Laude with Distinction at a GPA of 3.53 and i am proud that i never gave up. To other, this may be a simple story while others may think i never struggled enough but only i know the emotional, physical and mental stress i went through to reach this stage and i would love to encourage someone passing through trials that no matter what, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep the faith, the hope and the trust in divine power and yourself. Tell your mind that you can pull through and remember to find something; hobbies and talents that can help you alleviate your mental stress.

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