She is surely not the first girl to achieve big things at 23, but Faith Kabanga has a story to tell as to how she defied numerous odds to be what she is in life—a technical education teacher at HHI Secondary School in Blantyre. In this interview with Tamandani Mwalabu, she tells her that is likely to touch hearts for one reason or the other.
What is the story about this youthful teacher HHI students are talking about?
My name is Faith Tiyamike Kabanga. I come from Champiti Village, T/A Kwataine in Ntcheu District. I was born on December 10 1992 at Chitawira Private Hospital in Blantyre. I am the sixth born in a family of five girls and two boys. Sadly, one of my sisters and one of my brothers were called to God’s glory. I am currently teaching science and technical subjects at HHI.
Your education background?
I did my Standards One Eight at Manja Primary School in Blantyre. Thereafter, I was selected to Zingwangwa Secondary School from where I earned a place to pursue tertiary education at the University of Malawi. I was at the Polytechnic, where I got a Bachelor of Science in technical education. I graduated last year, with a credit.
What was your upbringing like?
I was largely raised by my parents. Unfortunately, my father later passed on. I grew up in a tough environment because financially, the whole family depended on my mother, who is a primary school teacher. You can imagine the salary of a primary school teacher then, but yet she was able to support all of us. We were staying in a house without electricity and during my MSCE preparations, sometimes I had difficulties to study in the night because of lack of paraffin. Candles were equally more expensive to buy. I remember that at some point we stayed in an uncompleted house because of financial problems. All that had a negative impact on our lives as children.
Who inspired you into teaching?
At first, I never wanted to be a teacher, but in life, I have come to understand that everyone is born with a destiny and gifts which we all discover either through mentorship, experience, pressure or even pain. When I was selected to do technical education at the Polytechnic, teaching was not in me until I did my teaching practice (in third year) at Soche Hill Secondary School. It was while there that my whole view of a teacher changed. My interaction with students inspired me to start loving the profession.
A secondary school teacher at 23, how does it feel?
I am proud that I have managed to achieve this feat. I am thankful to God, because without Him, I don’t think I could have made it. I remember that in 2008, before I sat for my MSCE examinations, I had an incident at home which could have prevented me from proceeding with school.
What really happened?
I had a spill of boiling cooking on my leg and I sustained a big wound that made walking practically difficult. That was two months before my MSCE exams. Doctors feared that I could lose normal use of that leg, but I avoided the worst. I wrote my MSCE exams in pain and not fully prepared, but God did the rest for me. During my education, I encountered many psychological, economical and social challenges and, surely, it is by God’s grace that today I am a proud youthful teacher. I know this is not the end, but a stepping stone to the next stage of my life and the beginning of a future that is certain.
What is the secret to your academic success?
I define my success in the sphere of God and I know there is much more for me to achieve. On the other hand, I am a person with a purpose. I always make sure that I have met my targets. Purpose makes one determined, hardworking and focused, and you end up succeeding in whatever you do.
How do you manage your time?
Defining priorities in life matters a lot. This understanding helps me to set proper targets of what, when and how to manage my time and life. I am a good time manager because I attend to my priorities first, then my wants follow.
Your experience in the staff-room?
My first week in the staff-room was not easy, especially with the majority of the teachers being older than me. I did not know how to handle both myself and them. I panicked a little on how to carry myself before them, so I was just associating with fellow young teachers. Currently, I am able to associate with my fellow staff members. It is so interesting being with them around because they are experienced and I learn a lot from them.
Advice to young girls who want to follow your path?
I would say the journey of life is personal and they don’t have to be influenced negatively by peer pressure. Each one of us has a unique path of life, which makes us unique and important. A different thing is what stands out in a group, so they must be different and thrive to be models.
How do you spend your free time?
Apart from being a teacher, I am a businessperson. I own a restaurant in Limbe, so during my free time I go to supervise my business. When relaxing at home, I watch movies, study and cook.
God put man in a realm of time that we can set targets and achieve them. Every achievement is worth celebrating, but a rightly timed achievement is best celebrated. Do all you can to achieve your targets in the right time. n