Zambia: Cynthia Chitalu Kanyembo

Zambia: Cynthia Chitalu Kanyembo

Date: April 19, 2016
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I am a single mother of three, 2 boys and 1 girl. After completing my senior secondary school, I started working as a General worker at Chililabombwe Municipal council. After working for just two months, I met my now ex-husband and we later got married. After having my first child, he told me to resign and concentrate on keeping my son. He promised to take me to college,so I followed his idea, and that was the beginning of problems in my marriage. I started facing challenges in terms of supporting my family as my husband started drinking beer uncontrollably. He also stopped caring for his child and would insult me that I was a lazy woman who would just sit home waiting for him to provide for the family. He could also call me all sorts of names and did not even take me to college as agreed.

One day a neighbour told me about Gender links and the programme they will be running in conjunction with Chililabombwe Municipal council. She encouraged me to attend the meeting and I did. I was so encouraged with what the facilitator taught us. She talked about what gender roles are and how not to look down at yourself as a failure. This made me realise that I am a person of worth and can stand on my two feet. I also came to know more about the good things God has put in me as a woman and the roles that I can play as a woman. The first day of the training was the most memorable experience of my training because the things we learnt about if I was to go to any college I could spend a lot of money but Gender Links trained us for free. Because of this, I never even wanted to miss any phase so I attended all the phases.

For me all the three phases were very useful especially the lesson on computers because nowadays we are living in the modern world where everything is now computerised so I have always wanted to know how to operate a computer as such it was like a dream come true. Everything that I will be doing  in my business, finding a market gap, and seeking information in terms of where to access my products I will be using a computer.

Before the workshops, I was doing a lot of business like selling tomatoes, onion and I used to rare chickens but because I lacked the most needed knowledge like, costs and profits, mark ups and losses and how to find market gaps the businesses where not sustainable. Currently, I now no longer depend on my ex-husband to help out with the childrens upkeep and school fees, and house rentals. Through GL, I have acquired a lot of Knowledge

  • I am able to calculate and know whether I am making losses or a profits
  • I am able to use a computer
  • I now know how to advertise and find market gaps because I am not restricted to one place and one business

Through Gender links who taught us to believe in our self, I managed to find employment as a secretary at a college. The council helped us in terms of having our businesses registered by providing us with necessary information they also facilitated our group registration.

Before I used to experience violence from some of my relatives whom I used to trouble over start up capital when ever my business went down, Some people used to laugh at me and saw me as a failure and loser. My partner did not respect me in any way because I was so dependant on him. As at now, I am respected because I am working 6 days a week and I am now earning a salary and from my business am bringing something home and I no longer trouble my ex-husband like I used to. Some of my relatives are now depending on me. My close relatives are now appreciating the little things that I am now contributing to the family. My children no longer suffer as they used to before, I am respected for changing my life from a beggar to a giver.

Based on my experience I am now empowered economically. I can support myself and because of this I am no longer insulted. I sometimes share the information learnt at the workshops, I also extent the same message to my workmates and church mates. At church I teach them in line with the biblical teachings. For instance, I always give an example of Jona where he was swallowed by a big fish and stayed there until the fish spat him that’s when he saw the goodness of God. So I encourage them to see themselves as people who can any type of business and continue to seek success as one never knows, how and when the fish will spit them out of the belly.

My actions have changed some practices and some people’s mind-sets for instance some people believe that a woman cannot be employed genuinely but through corruption either in cash or in kind. But I always tell them to be courageous and believe in themselves and have the qualifications required. Women in my community now know that they can access land if they follow the right procedures.

I am seen differently because I provide for my family. I help and encourage women who are still in abusive relationships, I show them where to find help and how to handle some issues just like I was taught by Gender Links and I encourage them to find something to do rather than staying or being a full time house wives. I have learnt so many lessons and I have been encouraged and I will never be the same again. I now know which business to do according to seasons and time unlike before.

My future plans are to do my business at my own place so I need to acquire a plot and start doing my business from there. By 2030, I would like to be labelled as a woman of influence in terms of what I want to achieve.

My only request is that Gender Links should continue empowering women like us.