DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
WHEN her husband died in 2002 and left her with three children, a girl and two boys, Jane Daka Mutwale promised herself they would still not suffer.
Her oldest child, a daughter aged 23, is at the University of Nambia. The other two, who are twins, are aged 20. One is in China while the other is at the Copperbelt University (CBU).
“I work extremely hard to ensure that I create a possible future for my children by giving them a chance for an education,” she says. “As a woman, I told myself when God took my husband that I will do my best to provide for my children.”
Fortunately for Mrs Mutwale, she was a career woman.
As a child, Mrs Mutwale was always the first to grab the ice pack or a bandage when one of her younger siblings was hurt.
She had ambition of becoming a nurse since the age of five. Her ambition came true.
Born on August 12, 1970 in Kalomo, Southern Province where her parents met, she did her primary education at Kalomo Primary School before moving to Njase Girls Secondary School in Choma where she completed her secondary school in 1989.
Her family then moved to Chingola, Copperbelt where Mrs Mutwale started her nursing career after enrolling at the Nchanga School of Nursing as a midwife in 1990.
She spent two years there, and in 1993, she was sponsored by the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) to train as a registered nurse at Ronald Ross Nursing School in Mufulira until 1995 when she completed her training.
Afterwards, she moved to Konkola Mine Hospital to work as a nurse. And to date, she has been working as a nurse.
Her job as a nurse has given her an opportunity to interact with a lot of residents of Chililabombwe, especially those who go to seek medical care.
Mrs Mutwale has earned the recognition of the people of Chililabombwe. In 2011, the community of Chililabombwe’s Kafue ward, who had experienced her courtesy and hospitality, asked that she takes part in the affairs of the ward just as a member of the ward committee.
It was the start of her political career.
In the 2016 general elections, she stood as councilor for Kafue ward and won on the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ticket.
“I did not know that the little things I do for people here in Chililabombwe are being recognised,” she says. “Whenever I go out, I seem to be more popular and sometimes people will remind me of some help I rendered to them months back. As a result of such service, I find myself more popular now than ever before.”
Mrs Mutwale says her involvement in public office as a councillor is just the beginning of her political life because she aspires to be a member of Parliament for the area.
“I believe it was not a mistake for me to be here in Chililabombwe for all these years since 1993, through service, I have to give back to the people in this area,” she says. “I just love the satisfaction I get after giving a service to the people that need it the most. That is why I find it satisfying to just see people get better not only in the hospital where I work but also in the community where I live.”
Mrs Mutwale now combines work as a nurse at the hospital and that of a councillor.
For the past three years, she has been a community case manager with a rural caseload that deals predominantly with seniors.
“I absolutely love working in the community,” she says. “You get to see an entirely different side of people in their homes and what’s going on with them. I love problem-solving and being challenged.”
In one of her roles at ward level, she worked with a range of people in resolving challenges within the community like upgrading infrastructure. And because of her expertise in health matters, she was asked to sit on a health committee to attend to the health issues raised in the community.
Mrs Mutwale has been trained by the Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), through one of its women empowerment programmes.
“Social issues are important to me,” explains Mrs Mutwale.
“When you find out that your clients seem more ignorant about what to do with their own health and struggling to even manage their environment, you realise there are a lot of things that the general public does not know.
“People grow food but still have malnutrition problems, then you know they need more information. If people could afford proper nutrition and their prescriptions, health care would be much less expensive. That’s my nurse’s brain at work, looking at the entire picture, the environment and all the factors that go into health.”
But even as she looks to further her political career, Mrs Mutwale also wants to advance in her nursing profession.
She sponsored herself for a degree programme in nursing at UNZA. Now she is looking at pursing a Masters.
“I wanted to be up to date with education,” Mrs Mutwale says. “As a woman, I believe education is what we should look out for in order for us to be in those positions that we dream of and be the leaders in our communities.”
DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka