She lives in a ramshackle her late grandmother left because the house she was constructing before she quit netball in 2009 is still not completed.
Just last weekend she underwent a surgery at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to remove an abnormal swelling on her thigh and this could not be possible had it not been for the assistance of some well-wishers.
Yet for 14 years, between 1995 and 2009, she diligently served the Malawi Queens as a top-notch shooter winning numerous individual awards, including the ‘Netball Player of the Year’ accolade six times in a row from 2000.
Her last-minute penalty shot against South Africa during Commonwealth Games qualifier 16 years ago, took Malawi Queens to the prestigious event.
That’s why whenever the name of Emma Mzagada is mentioned in the netball circles, memories of the former Malawi Queens and Thunder Queens (formerly MTL Queens) star’s exceptional shooting skills are quickly rekindled.
But today, she wonders why those that benefitted from her sweat during her prime, especially, the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM), have neglected her after she got sick and bedridden in Chilomoni Township, Blantyre for almost a year now.
Even after her return from the hospital, she needs money to buy some necessities such as bandages from pharmacies to keep her operated thigh clean.
Mzagada explained that the only time she got support from the local netball governing body was in 2013 when they gave her K20 000 after she was admitted to Queen Elizabirth Central Hospital.
She, however, said this only happened after the media reported about her illness.
“I do not know why NAM officials can reach this point of not visiting and helping me after learning about my illness long time ago. As a veteran national team player, I believe NAM is supposed to take good care of me. But it pains to note that they are nowhere to be seen even after promising to support me.
“I am desperate for help because life has become too hard for me. Apart from finding money to use for transport to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for check-ups twice a week, I need to fight hard to feed five children—my two daughters, my late brother and sister’s three children. But look at me now, how can I achieve that,” she said.
As if that is not enough, Mzagada said with the financial crisis she is currently going through, she cannot afford to have three meals a day, although doctors advised her to eat a balanced diet.
“What I can afford is only a meal a day and this is only possible with my sister’s support. Let me take this opportunity to ask well-wishers to help me especially as regards to food,” she said.
According to her sister Jessica Mtekama, the notable individuals from the netball circles that frequently help her are former Queens coach Edith Kaliati, her former team-mate Ruth Kaipa-Chimombo and some members of Facebook grouping Malawi Netball Lovers.
Thunder Queens players also once visited the netball legend.
However, NAM president Rosy Chinunda expressed ignorance about the former Queens star’s illness.
“We helped her once two years ago with the little we could afford and since then, what we knew was that she recovered. Thank you for notifying me about her latest illness. I will follow it up,” she said.