For some, at birth, life delivered all one can dream of to have a rosy life.
Others on the other hand, have had to churn out lemonade on their own from raw lemons.
The life story of Lizzie Mithi talks of one person who had to make a full life for herself from nothing.
From her humble beginnings as a charcoal and vegetable vendor, Mithi toiled to access a ladder to reach her dream life.
She said since the death of her parents when she was in Standard Five, life proved to be a rough terrain for her.
Eventually, she was forced into an early marriage thinking it could be a way out.
However, things did not turn out according to her expectations.
“I used to go door to door selling vegetables and charcoal. That was my life and that income is what sustained our household,” she said.
A weak Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) certificate she obtained against all odds proved to be her turning point for Mithi.
She used the 39-points certificate to enroll for a beginners plumbing course.
Mithi says: “One day I came across a plumber in Zolozolo Township here in Mzuzu. I got interested in his work and asked how one can learn the trade. He told me I should either go to school or attach myself to a bush plumber.”
After consulting with the Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurial Training Authority (Teveta), Mithi enrolled at God and Gift Junior Technical College.
The 41-year-old did her 3, 2 and 1 grades at the junior technical institution from where she went for attachments at Mzuzu University (Mzuni).
At the end of her six months apprenticeship, Mithi was offered a full time job.
“They refused to let me go and offered me a one-year contract,” she said.
In 2010 Mithi applied for a job at Mzuzu Water Board and luckily she was picked and posted to Rumphi.
Then ideas of upgrading her education started flowing in. In 2011 she enrolled for a diploma course in plumbing at Mzuni.
After completing her diploma her employer Mzuzu Water Board sent Mithi for other studies in Lesotho in the same field of plumbing where she mastered pre-paid meter reading.
She was also sent to South Africa for an exchange programme.
“By this time, things started changing for the better in our household. We reached a point where we could afford a decent meal. And from my earnings I managed to build two houses,” she said.
In 2014 Mithi sat for her MSCE again where she emerged with an impressive 19 points.
Meanwhile the company that she worked for while in South Africa contacted her employer again to request for her services.
She says: “They invited me for a year-long stay. But I only stayed for four months since I got communication that I had been selected to study for a degree in Water Resource Management and Development at Mzuni. I, therefore, had to cut my stay short.”
At the moment, Mithi works as the Environmental Officer for Mzuzu Water Board responsible for Mzuzu, Mzimba and Nkhata Bay districts plus Ekwendeni.
She has also established her own plumbing company Yadinginyika Plumbing Company.
“I have four full-time workers who are led by husband who is the overseer. He leads in all the operations and I am just more into supervision. I have built 14 houses, five of which are self-contained,” said Mithi with a booming smile on her face.
She said above anything else, she is proud to send her children to better schools, a thing which was a far-fetched dream for her.
Her first born daughter is currently at Maranatha Girls Academy.
Her husband Samson Mithi is as proud as the wife herself with their achievements as a family.
He said his wife initially wanted to do tailoring, but because of his background as a builder, he advised her to do plumbing.
The husband said: “I knew that the trades are almost similar and we could complement each other better if we were working in the same field.”
He has never lost sight of the struggles they went through which include gardening in people’s fields together with his wife. He said: “Sometimes it’s like a dream that we are here. There was a time when things got so tough that I went to South Africa in search of greener pastures. Still things did not work out and I returned to reunite with my family.”
Public relations officer for Teveta Carol Magreta says there is a wrong tendency by females to shun male-dominated courses such as plumbing and motor vehicle mechanics because they feel they don’t have the ability to compete efficiently on the market.
She says there is need for mindset change among the womenfolk.
Magreta observed that women need to develop confidence that they also possess the mental stamina needed to pursue such trades regardless of their sex.
“Right now there are endless accounts of females who dared to venture into these trades and are thriving. They have established their own businesses and are even employing others. In the process, they are aiding in the creation of the one million jobs,” she said.
She says at the moment, Teveta is implementing an incentive initiative to attract more women to pursue male dominated trades.
She said among the incentives is the exception to pay fees as their training and examination costs are met by Teveta and the deliberate application of the 40:60 ratio in selecting students to Tevet Colleges.
Magreta says as Teveta they are happy and impressed by Mithi’s faith that she could change her life’s fortunes using the Teveta route and in particular the challenging field of plumbing.
“She is a perfect example of daring women. The fact that she rose from the bottom is even more inspiring. She assessed her life as a vegetable seller and saw that it was not what she wanted to be and she took the necessary steps to change it,” she says.
There are plenty more out there who are in less pleasant situations, but lack the necessary motivation to change the narrative of their lives.
But for Mithi, the story is different, she dared to dream and acted on her dream.