My Convertible Life

Friday, September 3, 2010

Moms Worth Admiring - Part 5

Richard, an Australian who has been Mwenya’s partner for seven years, has been supportive of her decision to come to Cardiff. “He feels I’ve got a lot of potential in consulting,” she says smiling. “It’s a really big sacrifice for him, but he says he did it out of love so it’s worth it.”

Mwenya says Richard misses her the most at night when he’s alone in their large home, although she says he copes by staying busy. “You know how men are,” she laughs, filling the house with the sound, “macho about everything.  But we talk every day, and he consults me about everything. We haven’t broken that relationship.”

Her parents have also encouraged her to pursue higher degrees.  “They’re from a very enlightened family, so they value education a lot. Every time my mom calls, she says, ‘As soon as you finish that MBA, you have to go do your Ph.D.’”

Like Carol, Mwenya believes coming to Cardiff was a good decision, but friends – here and at home – have found that choice difficult to accept. “People ask, ‘How can you do that to your kids?’  I tell them I’m not doing anything to my kids,” she says firmly, shaking her tiny braids. “It’s a pity that there will be a one-year separation, but sometimes in life you have to take decisions. They might sound selfish to other people, but sometimes you have to take decisions and get on with your life.”

She hopes that her children will learn from her and never become complacent. “I try to impress upon them the importance of education. They must never think, ‘We’ve come from a good home. Mom and Richard are doing things for us, so we can sit back.’ I’m trying to set an example for them.”

Being a role model is especially important in Zambia, according to Mwenya. “As African women, we’ve got all the odds against us. It’s really some kind of achievement for an African woman – especially a married African woman – to leave her family and come study,” she says. “People think once you’ve finished school and you’re working and married with kids, that’s it. I’ve tried to tell people there are so many opportunities out there. If you’ve got talent or opportunities, you should use them.”

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