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Home!!! Do not use !!!Surviving off soliciting commuters; life of Martha Banda

Surviving off soliciting commuters; life of Martha Banda

The need to escape from the jaws of poverty and the desire to attain success led 25-year-old Martha Banda down the path of becoming a bus conductor,a male dominated occupation characterised by hostile activities.

Despite the harsh environment enveloping the occupation,Martha says she had no option but to take up the job in order to save her family from completely drowning in abject poverty.

Residing in Lusaka’s Chazanga,Ms. Banda holds a grade 12 certificate and the first born in the family of five.

“Looking at the situation I was in, I needed to make sure my siblings had a better life and at least have a meal three times a day and the only opportunity available was to become a bus conductor,” Ms. Banda who is an ophan and family breadwinner says.

Ms. Banda says becoming a bus conductor was never the dream job as she aspires to become a police officer one day and completely arrest poverty to fully deter it’s detrimental impact on her family.

She says the ambition to become a police officer is fueled by her father who wanted to become a police officer before his demise.

“When the opportunity came for me to be a conductor, I never thought about how harsh and stressful it could be for me seeing that the job is mostly dominated by men,I gladly accepted the offer,” she says.

Ms. Banda narrates that initially the job was thick on harsh treatment not only from the work mates but from her relatives as well who looked down on her and wondered why she took up such a job.

She recounts sentiments of rejection she was baptized with from her relatives when she decided to take up the job.

“My family was against it to an extent where they stopped talking to me but there was nothing I could do but become a conductor and at least I was able to put food on the table for my siblings,” she says.

However, after tasting the fruits of her hardwork, the relatives gradually began to embrace her choice of work.

Ms. Banda, who is unmarried and does not wish to be in a union anytime soon says she is determined to build her life and offer the siblings a life they have been denied growing up.

Ben Mwelwa, Martha’s boss says giving up does not exist in Martha’s life as her determined spirit is beyond his comprehension.

He describes the youth as a hardworking and goal oriented woman surpassing the men in the occupation with her spice of diligence and intelligence.

“I have never met a hardworking and determined girl like Martha and no matter what she goes through, she would never show it even to her customers,” he says.

Mr. Mwelwa says just like any other member of society he initially didn’t believe in a female handling the ‘street job’.

Ms. Banda encourages some Lusaka ‘slay queens’ and ‘kings’ who feed on other people’s sweat to pick the shovels and lift their meagre lives out of unsustainable livelihoods.

She advised women not to be selective when choosing jobs but pick whatever work is available to sweep poverty out of their homes.

“Do not be picky on the kind of work you do just because you are a woman or because the type of job is largely dominated by men because what a man can do, a woman can do better,” she says.

This article was co-written by Amos Sikaonga

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