NEWTON SIBANDA, Lusaka
TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD Boaz Nyambe is a living testimony of resilience and the ability to draw positive strength out of adversity. It is widely acknowledged that adverse conditions can either crush children’s hope for a better future or develop a resolve to make a difference. Boaz fits in the latter.
At the age of 20, Boaz had the onerous task of taking care of his ailing father at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital (UTH). He was later to assume the role of looking after his immediate younger sister following the death of his father in January 2015.
“That was one hectic year. We moved from Makeni Simoson where dad used to rent to John Laing because we couldn’t afford the rent,” Boaz recalls with nostalgia.
“My grandfather who lives in Chilenje offered us his two roomed house in John Laing. I moved in with my younger sister who was in Grade 11 and I even paid school fees for her that year from the menial jobs I started doing,” he says.
Though he is the third in a family of seven, he prematurely assumed the role of a breadwinner because his two older brothers dropped out of school and are ‘literally doing nothing.’
Boaz, who was born in Choma, comes from a broken family. His father and mother divorced in 2002 and the latter remained in Choma where she is merely hustling to eke out a living while his father moved to Lusaka where he was lecturing in tailoring and designing at Makeni Islamic Community.
His family has been scattered following the demise of his father with his younger siblings living with different relatives. His two older brothers live in Lusaka’s Kanyama township.
Boaz, who is in his second year studying pharmacy at the University of Zambia (UNZA) Ridgeway campus, has not been haunted by all the hardship he has gone through in his resolve to excel academically.
And he has continued doing everything possible to achieve his goal.
He completed Grade 12 at Choma Secondary School in 2013 and obtained eight points.
Immediately after the death of his father, Boaz started casual work at Trade Kings in order to sustain himself and his younger sister.
In 2015, he started working for Best Car Wash on Lusaka’s Dedan Kimathi Road where he is currently a supervisor.
“I was passing by and approached the manager for a job. I was asked to work for three days so that my performance could be assessed and after seeing my commitment, I was made supervisor,” Boaz says.
In the same year, Boaz applied to UNZA and was accepted in the School of Humanities but could not continue because he had no bursary.
He then decided to continue working at the carwash.
In 2016, Boaz reapplied to UNZA and was admitted to the School of Natural Sciences, fortunately on a full bursary this time.
He however, did not find accommodation at the university and lives in Kabwata where he shares accommodation with colleagues.
Boaz opted to share accommodation with friends because ‘squatting’ on campus is more expensive. Besides, his place of residency is two minutes away from Ridgeway Campus.
Even though he has a full bursary, Boaz has continued working at the carwash during vacation to meet other expenses.
“Also, I have never liked being dependent. If you really want to do something, you must do it yourself so that if it fails, you don’t blame anyone,” says Boaz.
Armed with a determination to succeed, Boaz does not mind continuing to do menial work and says this does not bring a sense of inferiority in relation to his peers.
“I don’t mind doing what I am doing because if I just stay home, no one is going to feed me. If I ask for money, no one will give me,” he says.
With the future almost certain, his ambition is to continue getting good grades at school. His dream, however, is not to work for a long time but venture into business.
“My dream is to do my own things after working for a short time,” he says.
Boaz’s advice to other vulnerable youths is not to despair but soldier on and counter adversity.
“If you just sit, nothing will move. You have to make the change that you want,” he says.
“Take the first step before anyone can come to help you. You have to work hard and God will bless that work,” he points out.
NEWTON SIBANDA, Lusaka