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Chijika Ngonga: rises above self pity

Sunday Profile: CHRISTINE CHISHA, Lusaka
MARCH 16, 2016 started as an ordinary day for Chijika Ngonga.
For the 32 year old interior designer, it was business as usual when 06:00 hours found her on a bus to Lusaka from Mufulira.
While she sat, she took the opportunity to plan her programme once she arrived but she did not conclude her plans. The bus was involved in an accident and in the process, she passed out.
“I woke to find the bus had overturned. I tried to get up using my right hand, but I couldn’t feel it.  I was too scared to check myself. That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong”, she said.
It took a council van to pull her from the wreckage. She had lost her arm and she saw it being laid on her chest while she was being pulled out.
“I passed out”, said a visibly emotional Chijika. Emergency measures ushered her into the theatre where she underwent surgery
Fortunately, she had not lost blood in the accident and the next time she came round, Chijika found herself firmly tucked in bed in the recovery room.
From then on she had to make do with one hand. She embarked on training her left arm.
Reality about the loss of her right arm dawned on her when she was discharged. Up to that time, she had not shed a tear, but they flowed at the sight of her children.
“I cried for the first time when I went home. I was so emotional, especially when my youngest child was scared to hug me because I had one hand. That was when it hit me that my life will never be the same again. I cried for the life I once knew,” she says between sobs.
Born in 1984 in Mufulira, Chijika a diploma holder in Business Administration realised she needed to choose between going the way of depression or living a life of gratitude.
The owner of Heavenly Touch limited, a company that deals in décor, events planning and catering, Chijika also had to choose between living in Lusaka or moving to Mufulira.
She had moved to Lusaka after her divorce.
“I got married at the age of 22, and divorced after eight years in marriage due to irreconcilable differences. After my divorce I move to Lusaka where I registered the company because I needed to find what to do to help look after my children,” she said.
The pull to Mufulira won the day.
The accident set her business back, but she was determined to go on. Though she lost out on some clients who had made bookings, she did not give up.
August is a busy time for her kind of business and she was able to manage with the assistance of her helpers. Now she looks back with gratitude.
“To me losing an arm was better than losing my life, the reason I have refused to have a pity part.  I want to impact lives after the accident, especially disabled children who are born in poor families. I believe I was saved for a purpose, “she said.
She has been able to draw strength from her parents, the extended family, the pastor and his wife, all who constitute a strong support group.
She also finds comfort in Isaiah 54:10, which says –though the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed,  my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, said the Lord that hath mercy on thee…
Whenever she is given an opportunity to speak, Chijika has a message of hope, “no matter your circumstance, you can overcome”.
She is convinced that no tragedy under the sun should curtail one’s plans for the future.
“Our spirit should not be crushed, but sustained to help us pick up our lives after the tragedy. We should do not allow the experience of our past to imprison our destiny,” Chijika said.
Last week she was speaking at a High Tea in Lusaka on the theme ‘ Every tree a forest’ hosted by Nelly Nyathi.
It was a gathering of women who met to share their stories to encourage and inspire one another to rise above circumstances of life.
Inspired by her mother who raised her and her siblings in a Christian manner, Chijika described her as a kind woman with Proverbs 31 values.
Because of her mother, Chijika says she has managed to overcome a number of obstacles, especially that her life has been of tragedy, faith and victory.
She said even with just one arm she is able to decorate for all functions, cater and plan for events. Her hobbies are cooking, reading and travelling.
Chijika plans to launch a foundation for children with disabilities called I-RAD (initiative to rise above disabilities).
The foundation will be a non-profit making organisation for children living with disabilities and in poverty.
Through the foundation, she intends to provide them with basic needs, mentor them, give them hope, love and help them overcome challenges in life so that they rise above their disabilities.

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