This week, we continue to celebrate women who fought against all olds to greater heights and made impactful contributions to other people’s lives. The women made strides in education, career and went miles to bring out positive changes in their community. They faced challenges but remained strong and determined.
Nancy Sakala: Turned her life around after abuse
Nancy Bilima-Sakala, 39, a Ngoni from Mbulawa Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Khosolo-Jere in Mzimba broke all the barriers to become an orthopedic surgeon after years of working as a guard.
After completing her primary school studies in 1993, she was selected to Likuni Girls Secondary School where, unfortunately, she did not do well in her Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations (MSCE), having scored seven points in English and Mathematics.
Life was normal for her and her three siblings until it took a sour turn after July of 2000, when their father died.
She then landed a job as a premier guard at G4S (then Securicor) in 2002 and she worked with the company for two-and-a-half years.
In 2004, she was among the candidates selected to pursue a certificate in clinical medicine at the Malawi College of Health Sciences (Lilongwe Campus).
That was the beginning of another battle in her marriage as she was then faced with having to choose between school and marriage.
After working for a year as a medical assistant, she was selected to pursue a diploma in orthopaedics at MCHS Blantyre Campus in 2011.
She completed her studies in 2013 and was posted to Monkey Bay Community Hospital in Mangochi to work as an orthopaedic technician.
In 2014, Nancy decided to re-sit her Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and reduce her points and she scored 19 points.
She went on to apply for another upgrade at the College of Medicine.
She was selected in 2015 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Trauma and Orthopaedics, which she completed in 2017.
After graduating from the College of Medicine, she was transferred to Kamuzu Central Hospital where she now works as associate trauma and orthopaedic surgeon.
Advising younger girls, Nancy says: “Have your own goals in life, instead of just complaining about how unfair life is. Submit yourself to God Almighty; He is faithful to help you. Be strong and determined.”
Stella Gama: Malawi’s only female on climate change negotiations
Women must be at the table when climate change issues come to the table.
This is the view of the director of forestry Stella Gama, the country’s only active female negotiator in the global climate change talks held every December.
Thanks to her passion for science, she is the rapporteur for COP’s subsidiary body for scientific and technological advice and vice-chairperson of the technology executive committee.
She is also the least developed countries (LCDs) lead coordinator for gender, technology and facilitates subsidiary agenda items as co-chair.
“I believe in equal opportunities for both men and women, but climate negotiations remain a male-dominated field. We need more female voices at the negotiating table and in leadership roles,” says the former teacher.
Gama—who obtained Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology and Home Economics, from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College—belongs to the technology development and transfer stream as well as gender and climate change.
“As a negotiator,” the country’s forester-in-chief says: “At the end, what makes me happy is to see Malawi’s voice incorporated in the global agenda and the decisions influencing policy change and action to make life better for Malawians hit hard by climate change,” she explains.
Dorothy Sulani: Abandoned because of three children with disabilities
Raising children is a full time job—some have argued before.
However, when the child ages, the parents are usually relieved of some of the duties as he/she becomes more independent.
Such independence gives parents the hope of someday being taken care of by the child, but 38-year-old Dorothy Sulani’s story is different.
Not only is she facing big challenges in raising her three children with disabilities alone.
She was abandoned by her first husband after the first two children and her second husband abandoned her six years ago after the birth of her youngest son.
While others would chicken out, Sulani is an inspiration when it comes to not giving up.
Sulani comes from Mkwate One Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlumbe in Zomba.
She takes care of Gilbert, 21, Richard, 12, and six-year-old Wyson, all have difficulties in walking.
“Look, I don’t have any means of sourcing money; I don’t have a business that can bring me some cash to support my three children with disabilities and two others who are able-bodied. In total, I have five children,” said Sulani.
Temwani Chilenga: Stretching her wings to help others
As the world is going through the pandemic of the novel coronavirus, many people are frustrated and complaining about the disruption of their dreams. But that is not an issue for a young and vibrant woman, Temwani Chilenga.
At 24, she is highly passionate about vulnerable children and has managed to source funds from friends in the USA to support children.
Temwani has done a lot in her community even constructing houses for the orphans and providing necessities so that they still go to school.
“I chose to work with the vulnerable children because I want them to have a bright future and enjoy their childhood just like other children. They are important in our community because they belong here and they have to grow up and become useful citizens,” she says.
She is motivated to do what she does because of the hard life different children face every day.
She said people who want to succeed should ignore people who may pull them down.
Her advice to young girls is to put God first in everything, dream big and work hard.