Born in 1977, Emily Jungwana, has never stood to her height. She has always been crawling. Both of her legs are crippled.
Her life story is a good script for a movie, but still, she has to strive to create haven out of her hell.
When she was only ten years old, her father died. By then, her mother had fallen very sick. She had been suffering from an unknown disease. The death of Emily’s father became more painful. It left her more hopeless.
On the other hand, the health status of her mother continued to decline. The disease left her very weak, weaker that she couldn’t even do a simple chore.
“The death of my father resurfaced calls for our banishment from the village. In our village, they believe that disabled people are symbols of bad omen and their mothers are cursed,” she said.
“So my mother and I were driven out of the village barely few days after my father’s burial. Unfortunately, I was the only child from my mother. She was my father’s second wife. My brothers from another mother championed our banishment,” she explained.
At that moment, they had nowhere to go. Her mother’s village had the same belief, which meant that, only her mother would have been welcomed and not her.
As the whole tragic drama was unfolding, her mother’s health continued to deteriorate. Emily got more worried.
Nonetheless, they kept the faith until a good Samaritan took them to Sonda village in the area of traditional authority Kampingo Sibande, in the western outskirts of Mzuzu city.
“By that time, we had already suffered in the wilderness for a week or so without eating,” she said.
“The Samaritan pastor just dropped us here and said he had nothing more to help. Fortunately, we found a grass thatched hut already here. It was being used by him (the pastor) while he was ministering in this community around 1985,” she added.
She said, when the pastor left, they started sleeping on an empty stomach for some days. She then had to crawl for about 3 kilometres to a nearby road to beg for food from people. By then, her mother had become even weaker.
Emily said, the tendency of begging screwed her nerves and she thought of doing something about it. That something meant working hard on her own to find food to feed herself and the mother.
“Sometimes I could come from begging empty handed. This puzzled me a lot. I had a huge responsibility of taking care of my mother. Our relatives were nowhere to be seen because of my disability,” she said.
“I thought of using the 2 hectares land left by the pastor for farming. At first I borrowed a hoe and seeds from our nearby villagers (about 2 kilometres),” she said.
According to Emily, this was the genesis of her entry into subsistence farming. The first season, she harvested four bags of maize and some beans.
She had hope, her mother would now survive. They began eating thrice a day. The common adage that disability is not inability kept ringing realities in her mind.
After the farming began proving success, Emily adopted one widow. She had met this widow when begging at the road. The widow was very aged but had no pillar of strength.
“I also adopted two kids (the oldest being about 7 years) who were just wandering in this community. I felt the pain of being helpless, so I decided that from the little I get from the farm, I should share with my fellow vulnerable people,” she said.
However, much as Emily depends on farming, she is still facing a lot of challenges. Due to over-farming on the same plot, the soil has lost fertility. This has reduced her yield per season from six bags of maize to only three.
Without fertiliser, her future in farming, may eventually hit the rocks. She needs fertiliser to be applying in the field if her farming is to continue bearing good fruits.
She also needs some hybrid seeds which may double her harvest.
The good thing about Emily is that she is not lazy, she only needs someone to help her with some farm inputs. She is ready to continue farming and feeding the two widows and orphans.
“If they can also help me with a wheelchair for my mobility, I can be very happy. It’s a challenge to be crawling a distance of 4 kilometres to and from my Apostolic church. So I need a wheelchair.
“Someone can also help me with capital. I want to start business,” she said.
Emily is of the wish that if all goes well, she will establish an orphanage, saying there are many children who are just wandering in the community.
If you would like to meet or help Emily in any way possible, call/ WhatsApp this reporter on 0882688605 for direction.