Tell me about yourself.
I am Teleza Mwandira Singoyi and I am married to Christopher Singoyi. We have a six-month-old daughter, Theodora. I hail from Wenya Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwenewenya in Chitipa. I am the first born in a family of five girls and one boy. I am a member of Pentecostal Holiness Association Church.
What is your education background?
I did my primary education at three schools. I did Standard One and Two at Zolozolo Primary School in Mzuzu and Standard Three to Six at Choma Primary School where my father was a teacher.
I did my Standard Seven and Eight at Wenya Primary School in Chitipa where I wrote my Primary School Leaving Certificate (PSLC). I was selected to Wenya Secondary School. After sitting the Malawi School Certificate of Examinations (MSCE), I was selected to Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN).
What does your job as coordinator entail?
It is a job I got after it was advertised. It deals with issues of youth sexual reproductive health and lobbying funds for the youth and linking needy youth to institutions that can help them.
How has your journey been?
My father died when I was in Form Two and his death was a big blow to the family since he was the bread winner. My father’s death was the beginning of problems for me and my relatives. He used to pay my school fees and when I asked for the same from my aunts or uncles, they told me to just get married, saying education is not important for a girl.
My mother did not make enough money through piece works. She could only encourage us to look positively to the future and take school as our only weapon.
I was a bright student and fortunate to have been considered for a ‘Mammie Martin Fund’ scholarship that saw me through secondary school. The fund used to pay for my tuition fees only and I had to take care of the rest. There were times I ran out of bathing soap and used soap remains I found at bathrooms in school.
When I finished secondary school, people, especially those I approached for help kept pressurising me to get married, but knowing my goals in life, I gave it a deaf ear. It was in 2005 when I wrote my Form Four examinations and I got 19 points. I did not have money to go to Mzuzu to write university entrance examinations and I begged for the money from well-wishers. A man offered to help me in exchange for sex, but I refused. By the grace of God, a husband to one of my mother’s friends helped me with the money including registration fees. That is how I was selected to study at KCN.
Before going to school, I knew I had to source funds. I worked with Universal Industries for three months to raise money to buy some clothes and other necessities. Things were not easy and I applied for Global Aid Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) scholarship and I was fortunate to have been picked. The scholarship paid for my tuition, upkeep and stationery allowance.
Have you always wanted to become a nurse?
I never dreamt of becoming a nurse. My dream was to do electrical engineering because I wanted to prove that girls can do what men can. But when I was sitting the university entrance exams, someone advised me to apply for nursing because I stood a better chance of being selected. With time, I learnt to like the profession because of the impact it has on people. I love the way patients lighten up when they see me or when I talk to them. I realise that nursing for me is a calling than just a profession.
What motivated you to work hard when people told you to get married?
I did not want to end up like my mother who went through hell when my father died because she was economically dependent on him. She always told me that I had to marry education first before I got married to a man (Laughing).
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I have achieved a lot in my life and I don’t know what I would single out as my biggest achievement. But one thing I applaud myself for is getting a degree. It is something I worked for with all my heart. The other thing I have achieved is getting girls back to school. I remember a girl who got married because her father died. I told her my story, she was inspired and now she is at Mzuzu University.
I have counselled five girls who are now back to school and also linked two girls to non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The processes are still on-going.
Is there a way out for women forced into marriages?
Yes, there is a way out for women forced into marriage. They just need to stand their ground and report to authorities when the pressure mounts because there are many campaigns advocating for girls’ education.
What is your happiest moment?
There are many happy moments in my life. One is the day of my graduation. My other happiest moment is my wedding day— that was last year and the day my daughter was born— that brought the joys of becoming a mother.
What is your saddest moment?
The saddest day of my life is the day I lost my father. It was like a dark cloud had descended upon my life and I was left in total darkness. I am really grateful to my mother who was always there telling me to take heart and focus on the future.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I like to cook Nsima with fish of any kind; it’s my favourite dish and watching television with my family. I also like chatting with my husband who has been a great inspiration to my life.
What plans do you have?
I plan to further my education to PhD and to establish a community-based organisation to girls.
What advice can you offer to other women
There is no problem without a solution. Just have a vision and the problems will not block your path. Any problem we face is not new. Other people have faced and keep facing the same, so don’t let problems stop you from achieving your goals. Lack of school fees should not stop you from going to school because there are many NGOs that are willing to help girls.
Celebrating the saviour
As we approach Christmas, I find it important to remind ourselves what this season is all about. This article is, therefore, dedicated to the birth of the most important person in our lives, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born for a purpose, to be a Saviour and King of Universe. The conversation between Pilate and Jesus in John 18:37 attests to this fact. “When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a King, Jesus answered; ‘You say rightly that I am King. For this reason, I was born that I should bear witness to the truth!”
So Jesus is not just a little baby born in a manger, He is King of Kings! May we never forget this. So, what does a saviour do? He saves and delivers – literally! No other leader has the power and capacity to save our souls. My mother cannot save me. Neither can my pastor. In fact all leaders, no matter how much authority they wield, they cannot save my soul. Only Jesus can. Christmas, therefore, is a manifestation of the saviour’s authority and is so special to me.
Celebrating Christ’s birth is more than seeing Santa Claus with his sledges singing ho! ho! It’s more than cards, presents, tree-decorating and ‘happy holidays’. It is about celebrating my deliverance.
Where is Jesus in your Christmas plans? Would your family describe Christmas in terms of presents, alcohol-led parties, late nights and going to the lake? These will be dubbed ‘Christmas’ events, ‘Christmas’ parties, ‘Christmas’ bashes, – but sadly, if we were to ask where Jesus is in all this, we find that He has just been sidelined on the bench or is outside knocking if He may come in. May you have quiet reflective moments and proudly hail Jesus as the reason for the season.
So whatever you are planning this season, give honour to whom honour is due and exalt Him amidst all your ‘enjoyments’! May He be the esteemed guest of Honour at every ‘do’ you have.
Have a Jesus festive season! May you allow your life to become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the Son of God.