Life and Times of Sheryl C. Tendai

Sheryl C. Tendai
For Zimbabweans of my age, growing up in Zimbabwe has been surreal having gone through the best times and having experienced or heard stories of the worst times. Born and bred in Harare, I come from a family of 9 and being the only girl as my, i began my education in 1999 at Zengeza Primary School in Zengeza 2 in Chitungwiza at the age of 6. In 2006, I proceeded to Rukweza Secondary School in Mutungagore High School in 2007 having attained 6 points but only attended the 1st term and had to stop going to school from then till 1st term the following year because schools had been closed down due to the economic meltdown

My mother, Muchaneta Agnes Chigwedere is aged 55 years and a renowned farmer back at our 2 acre family land in Nyazura in Makoni Central, Manicaland approximately 3.5 hours by public means from Harare commonly known as combis costing about $12. She farms maize both for subsistence and commercial purposes and while not at the farm, she is in Chitungwiza, Harare. Here she is our family matriarch and one of the women’s representatives on matters human rights, justice and governance. Sometimes i accompany her to community meetings and during her sessions, i look at her and soak in her passion for her work, her knowledge of diverse community issues and the selflessness that informs her zeal and want nothing else but to be just a fraction of what she is because to be like her would be a two life-times worth of effort and achievement. 

It’s now been 3 years since cleared my secondary education but I am yet to further my studies. My plan is to join Harare Polytechnic so that I can bridge and then proceed to University of Zimbabwe. My Brother, Munya Honest on the other hand is my only older sibling and an employee of the county council of Chitungwiza. He is a harsh critic of mediocrity and at times approaching him with half thought out issues can land you in trouble – so more often than not, I refine my thinking before approaching him. Despite this, he is a great human being. I cherish and love him infinity. My dad passed on when I was 11 years old and all he had left for us was stolen during dollarization period. What he had worked for his entire life had summed up to $180. I have fond memories of him.

On receiving my secondary school results, i was too happy knowing that I had merited joining the university and not just any university but the acclaimed University of Zimbabwe, commonly christened as UZ within and without the education discussion circles of the youth of Harare, Zimbabwe and the southern region at large. Some say i don’t know what i want because i have studied so much stuff but I look at it as being an all rounded Zimbabwean - an attribute that I think every other Zimbabwean need to make it through a day as life is moving from hard to impossible in former bread basket of Africa. Currently, lack of fees mean that if I do not self-initiate then I will have to sit at home at only 23 years and "doing nothing" while my mates are out there working, enjoying life and getting married but i live by the mantra that; it takes 13 hours to build a toyota and 6 months to build a Rolls Royce. 

Having struggled to come out with 7 O levels excluding science subjects which i needed to fulfill my dream of becoming a neurosurgeon or engineer, i felt like it was the end of the road for me. I started to feel worthless and thought i was being a burden on my mother who had always been there for me and my only brother since our father died. l decided to being volunteering alongside my mother in Chitungwiza with other youth in development work because i felt I had to do something to regain my self-confidence and worthiness. She linked me with an Organization in Harare that works on youth issues in Chitungwiza and Epworth Districts. I took this volunteer work with zeal and passion trying as much as I can to learn and influence my fellow youth at the same time.

Beside the volunteer work which takes up most of my afternoons, I begun embroidery work and would do it in within the morning hours. God works in amazing ways if you ask me. My mother was once a hand-embroider but had to hang the needles for more than 10 years because she could no longer see properly and having always been close to her as she did her embroidery, I learnt a thing about it. So I began embroidery myself albeit on small scale as I had no capital nor experience and technical knowledge of embroidery. I just focused on designing my own clothes and some that I did as gifts that I would share out when called to birthdays or other small celebrations in Chitungwiza. I remember one shirt I designed for a development worker from Kenya when he was working in Kenya between 2015 and 2016 and presented it to him when he was in the office. He was happy about the gift – a white shirt, which I had embroidered with the map of Kenya. That gave me the confidence to know that I was on the write path in achieving my dream.

For me, embroidery and volunteering have worked well for me. I am steadily learning a lot on development work and therein, networking with strategic persons and organizations. My embroidery work is also growing not in cash but also in networks. People are responding well and even requesting specific designs for not only cloths but also jewelry – watches, rings, necklaces etc. Having seen my effort, my mother decided to take it once more to mentor and guide me on how best to go about it, sewing like she has been doing it all along and that has pushed me to work even harder. I have realized i can raise money to study civil engineering, my dream which i have not given up on.

I think, rather i believe that self-initiating in Zimbabwe is what will save the youth from desperation, lack of esteem and dirt poverty. My fellow youth, try this ideology: You have to do it for self before anyone can do anything for you.


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