personal statement essay
I come from a small economically depressed community in the outskirts of Harare. Here attaining tertiary education is an idealistic concept. Neither of my parents attended university. The majority of adults rely on prophesies to guide their decisions in life. I vividly remember my grandfather consulting a prophet when mother wanted to remarry. Throughout the year many breadwinners leave their families in pursuit of religious beliefs. Never did I imagine my mother leaving. We had both witnessed young girls being abused by family members in the absence of their parents. I never thought she would leave me in that situation.
When I was sixteen my mother left going to an isolated place for religious reasons that I wasn't made aware of at the time. It was only later that I found out she had been given a prophesy to live in a forest for 7 years to cleanse and bring good fortune to her family.
At that time we were staying with my paternal grandparents and two Uncles who suffered from alcoholism. Mother catered for our daily needs such as bread and sadza and, paid Grandmother's medical bills. Stepfather covered the rest of the expenses and being the only employed member of his family looked after my paternal grandmother.
Mother's departure cast the responsibility of supporting us financially on stepfather. We began struggling financially. Stepfather had to work shifts to raise enough money. Similarly, I overtook the household responsibilities. Even though there were five adults around, culturally I as the only girl I believed I had to. Looking back, It made me aware of how the way you are brought up influences the way you look at a problem whether a responsibility or a burden.
Balancing the responsibilities posed a challenge for me. I ended up getting to school late and leaving early. Thus my grades spiraled down. I kept to myself more and socialized less as my responsibilities overthrew my capabilities. I neglected all my extracurricular activities
After my mother had been gone for a month, she was allowed to visit once a month. Every time she came I judged her beliefs, overtly showing my hostility towards her religion. A bad relationship developed between us as I failed to understand the logic in being isolated from your family.
I've always wanted to further my education. I dreamt of one day getting professional help for my two uncles and paying my grandmother's medical bills. As my grades plummeted, I began feeling trapped in a ball of unrealistic dreams. Choosing to cater for people at home first before my educational needs was hard but it had to be done. The hope of ever leaving the neighborhood receded as I struggled to maintain good grades.
I decided to spent an hour with age mates whose parents had left home to understand how they dealt with the situation. I established a group of friends from different religions some who had gone through the same experience. I became aware of the religious beliefs of people in my neighborhood and learnt to respect their point of views. As I realized that I did not have to find validity in one's reasoning to respect their beliefs, the hostility towards my mother's religion slowly evaporated. I also worked on an effective way of communicating with mother without judging her beliefs. When she finally returned home after four months, we became friends again.
After three months, I had adapted to my responsibilities, gained time management and organizational skills. My grades started improving. I gained essential leadership roles in my clubs. I attained a third overall position in a class of over 600 pupils from being the fourteenth the year before. In an effort to ease the financial burden on my stepfather, I applied for an A'level scholarship and I was one of the lucky students to be awarded a full financial aid scholarship.
Throughout that hard year, I developed formidable skills in housekeeping and became an expert in sticking to a budget through proper planning. Most importantly, the bad relationship between my mom and I improved my communication skills. Becoming aware of other people's religious beliefs made me more open-minded towards other people's beliefs.
I'm still in that neighborhood and that longing to leave the stagnant neighborhood has not evaporated. I have developed a passion to support teenage girls in a similar situation through assisting students who have fallen behind in class or missed lessons to attend to family matters.