Carol, a short woman with a bright smile that flashes across her brown skin, works as a consultant for the Ministry of Public Service in Swaziland, evaluating new positions within departments. She completed short-term training in Botswana in 1995, earning a Certificate in Management Services. “It was painful to be away from home,” she says, “but I was close enough to go home by bus for the weekend, so it was easier for me.”
When her turn came for long-term training in Cardiff, her managers’ preference, she did not want to participate. “I applied, trusting they would reject me,” she says. “I gladly sent my undergraduate transcripts because they were not nice – I thought they would say, ‘Okay, you are hopeless.’ I was devastated when they admitted me.”
Her next prayer was that the funding would fall through, but she was granted the scholarship. “There the feeling started,” she says, twisting the ends of her short hair. “It’s like your heart is sinking inside you.”
Because the other employees in her department already have MBAs, Carol needed the degree in order to progress. A promotion would also nearly double her current salary, the equivalent of £400 per month, making it easier to afford the private school her daughters attend.
Carol’s husband, Patrick, supported her decision to get an MBA. He works as an Under Secretary in the Manpower Development Department of the government and already has a Master’s degree from the US.
When they explained the situation to Una, 10, and Sonia, 7, the daughters accepted it at first. “But as the time got nearer, they started crying. That’s what really tore me apart,” says Carol, her brown eyes turning red with the memory. “Some days I would pretend that I’d be okay, but inside I would be dead. Sometimes I would just cry with them. We’d all be on the bed together – the kids would cry, I’d be crying, and I’d look at my husband and his eyes were red. Everybody was crying in the family.”
As painful as the decision was, Carol knew she had to go. “You feel like your heart is being torn apart. At the same time, I can’t forfeit this opportunity. It’s for my future and their future.” She feared that refusal to complete the training scheme in Cardiff could result in eventual dismissal from her job.