By Betshaba Bwebya
My dream has always been to make a difference for my family.
I am Betshaba Bwebya. I am the last born and the only girl in a family of six and the only albino child in the family. As an albino I have limited sight and my lack of melanin exposes me to the damaging rays of the sun.
My mother and father went for a blessing to pray for a girl before I was conceived. When I was born albino, both my parents were greatly disappointed, especially my father. My mother was asked to go live with her parents for some time. Instead of her staying at her parents’ home for the usual two weeks as per tradition, she was asked to stay until such a time when my father would feel that the time was right for her to return with a white looking baby. In reality it was an indirect divorce and my mother was upset and her family members as well. Nothing could be done to change such attitudes.
While living at my grandmother’s place, my mother was not very active and my grandmother did everything for me. Our community did not know my mother well because she did not take me out with her. I was always with my grandmother, at church and at the market place, where she was a trader. She was alone after the death of my grandfather and vowed not to get married, so I was the beloved granddaughter.
All my two aunties and three uncles live on their own and my mother when she was home had her own stories. In short, I became my grandmother’s best friend. I called my grandmother “Mum” and my biological mother, Aunty. It has stayed that way and now it is very difficult for me to change. When I was nine months, my mother was permitted to go to her home and cook for my father and my siblings and do some laundry and then come back and care for me. My upbringing was a challenge because my mother then joined my father on condition that I should be kept by someone else. She left me behind and my siblings never associated with me freely. My cousins instead became my family. Wooo! Woooo! I love them. I was getting my energy from them.
I didn’t know that my parents were still alive until when I was 16 years old. I found out during the funeral of my wonderful grandmother who loved me so much. May her soul rest in peace. Father Luke, our parish priest played an important role in my education, for he helped my uncle learn a building trade. He took him to Luashya Trade School in Northern Province where my uncle learned bricklaying. Upon completion of his trade studies, he worked with Father Luke for some years. Father Luke did this to empower Uncle so he could support me, my grandmother and his family.
When I was nine, Father Luke talked to the late Sr Annie Nkole. She told Sr Agnes Bwalya about me and she came to see us in Kasama, in Mungwi district near the Mungwi river. Sr Bwalya talked to my grandmother and my beloved Uncle Raban and they accepted the offer to enrol me at St Odilia Special School where I started grade one. I completed my primary education with no difficulties, because of the help I was getting from the priest, my uncle and my grandmother. My academic performance was average and I had to repeat twice to improve my reading and writing. When I joined the secondary school, I had less difficulties in my studies and I passed well at grade twelve.
When I was at St Odilia, the school went up to grade nine. When I passed to grade ten, I had to go to a government school called Mpolokoso Secondary School. At Mpolokoso we had a room called resource room, where our specialist teachers attended to my academic special needs. My success at St Odilia played a part in influencing my uncle to send Eunice, my first cousin and his third born (who is not albino) to Mpolokoso Secondary School where I was learning. He sent Eunice to keep me company and to help me academically. Uncle Raban named his last-born girl Betshaba and his first-born son has a daughter named Betshaba. I tell you it is a strong bond and my mother is challenged by her family members.
At school and college, I had no great problems because of the arrangements made by my family. I even have other friends and became a good dramatist and I desire one day is to write a book. When I completed my secondary education, I joined the Teacher Training College and I graduated in October 2022 as a teacher and I am waiting to be deployed by the government. While I wait, I am working as a part time general worker at our nearby clinic where I mostly sweep and help the nurses. I am not paid but they give whatever they can. I enjoy the work so much. My second dream is to be in charge of the dispensary at school when I start work and I hope to take a short course in First Aid.
My biological family now turn to me to help because my siblings are not all educated. My brothers do not have any formal income, so they depend on piece work and odd jobs they pick up daily. My brothers and sisters including their children are all living with my mother and father and look to me for help. I am strongly convinced that I can and will make a difference for my family for I am the only one who has a trade. Is that not an achievement? My desire is to uplift them and that I will do.
Life is a challenge and the world needs more people with big hearts like Inverness County Cares and Chalice, to support us. Thank you for being be part of this noble task.
Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca, a Canadian charity, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Chalice provides guidance and assistance to help us provide a better life for the children at the Kawambwa schools. The Kawambwa Project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students, in Northern Zambia. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message. E-transfer address: email@example.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.