My full name is Babylon Mandaza. I was born on the 19th August 1984 in Harare. I am the first born in a family of two brothers. By then I had my father who was very strong and employed as a motor mechanic by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO). We really enjoyed the fruits of Harare. Things suddenly turned upside down when he fell ill in 1994.
We moved to the rural areas in 1995 and stayed there for about three quarters of a year. I stayed with him in the rural area for about three months. I was only 11 years old and for about one and a half months he was weak and ill. My Mother and young brother had fallen ill and went to Norton to live with my mother’s parents. There they could get easy access to medical help and there were people to cater for their needs as sick people. We then moved to Norton (My father and I) as well where we stayed with my Mother’s parents. My father eventually passed away due to Tuberculosis, which had struck him a second time. By the time my father died, his company had delisted him as an employee about six months before and so he was unemployed. He did not have any medical insurance or any other insurance policy that would cover us in such circumstances. I considered that all my dreams had been shattered.
Now it was through thick and thin to complete my Primary School Education. At grade seven I needed to enrol into High School, but did not have the money. A certain teacher noticed my potential and wrote a letter to the Principal to admit me into High School as I had scored 4 out of a possible 4 points. He gave me a place at St. Eric’s Secondary School in Norton. I had only schooling on my mind but another obstacle was food shortages. The family at times only having one meal a day. When I was in Form Two, unable to bear the prospect of starving whilst I had got the brains and hands, I thought of finding a job as it was through thick and thin to pay for my school fees also. Now the Welfare Services was paying three quarters of my fees and at times the fees were late and was often I was chased out of school for this reason. Once chased out by the Principal, my mother would go and talk to him and explain the situation and then he would just wait for the monies.
I thought of playing soccer and joined “Lucas Rangers” a company sponsored team and hoped they could employ me as they employ some youths from their football team. Now if they employed me it meant I would be restless and in a very tough position. From 7a.m.-12 p.m. I would be at school and from 2 pm-10 pm then at work was my strategy to alleviate the crisis but unfortunately things did not turn out the way I expected. I just thought I could work that out. In November I moved to “Black Bullets” Football Club. Our coach there was very humble and instrumental for the development of his Players. He was part of the Tsungirirai Private Voluntary Organisation Norton Youth Programme initiative. They were seeking more members and asked us to join. I did so and in everything I did, I put my whole effort. The middle of the month saw me drafted into the Executive Council as a committee member. I heard through gossip that Tsungirirai was paying school fees for orphans and I asked him if he could talk to the Superintended about my situation. Indeed the superintendent agreed and I was drafted into the programme together with my young brother.
Relieved that I had my fees paid for and an extra meal at the Orphan Skills Training and “Drop-In” Centre, there were no hassles now. Illness, thank goodness, had now been fumigated in my life and was hovering freely in the air. In the month of August 2000 my mother was diagnosed to be suffering from Tuberculosis after a month illness with no proper signs. Facing an uphill task again, I had to look after the family now. I had to cook, wash the dishes and provide some food. Her condition gradually improved though she is not perfectly strong. Thanks to help from Tsungirirai, I now have social security. We get basic health care, food and education. I also managed to complete my Ordinary Level through their assistance and have since enrolled into boarding school at Kutama College for my Advanced Level education and through sponsors, Tsungirirai is meeting the costs as well.I an studying commercial subjects of Mathematics, Accountancy and Business Management. Recently my brother Donald was suffering from Appendicitis and was in hospital for two weeks and Tsungirirai helped us to get him treated and he is now recovering quite well.
My ambition is to work very hard and become an Information & Technology Consultant. Please wish me luck as my “Success Story” is only just beginning!