My name is Rose Nyirenda. I am a young lady who was born on 23rd April, 1992 in the capital city of Zambia, Lusaka. Both my parents come from the eastern part of Zambia so that makes me an easterner too. I am the third born in a family of five children (2 elder girls and 2 younger boys). My father who is the care taker of the residence of Finland Embassy has worked as the gardener for 21 years. His job at the residence provided the income for me and my siblings to have a home and education.
I did my primary education at Lusaka Girls Basic School from 1998-2006 and my secondary education at Lusaka High School from 2007-2009. During the period from 2008 to 2010, whilst I was still in school and afterwards, I worked as a part-time waitress and bar attendant at our residence for the ambassador of Finland to Zambia. This helped me earn some money to sustain myself as my father could not manage to take care of all five children as he is the only one in employment and does not earn much for extra expenses. Sometimes I would work as a gardener to assist my father whenever he went on leave from work. After the ambassador left for another country, I was back home and jobless. College was only a dream for me as my parents could not afford to pay the fees. So in late 2011, I applied for a job at Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital as a general worker as I had no work experience and no higher education.
After a month of waiting and losing hope, I was finally called for interviews. I was directed to go to the orthopaedic workshop, but this was only if I was interested in the work done there. I went to the orthopaedic workshop and was introduced to the technicians. I remember the moment I set my foot in the workshop, I felt that I had finally found what my heart desired to do – and that was to help people. I had a wonderful team of technicians who taught me how to work with people with disabilities and also to fabricate prosthetic and orthotic devices. In early 2012, I had a chance to meet Olivia Giles whose charity, 500 miles, had already sponsored a number of people to study in prosthetics and orthotics. She asked me if I was interested to go for studies to improve my skills. It was like a prayer answered as I also dreamt of becoming a professional technician. Having worked in the orthopaedic workshop for a year and a half really taught me that there is more to life than just living for yourself. And the lesson I learnt is everybody has a right to live, work and enjoy life despite having any disability.
In October, 2013 I was given a life time opportunity by 500 miles to be the first African student to study prosthetics and orthotics at CSPO Cambodia. I am currently in my first year of studies and I cannot wait to make my first appliance to exercise my manual skills.
I love to spend some quality time alone to reflect on life, but mostly I love to spend my time with my family and the one that is close to my heart. My dream is to qualify and be a hardworking prosthetic and orthotic technician to fabricate prostheses and orthoses for my people in Zambia, to give them the same second chance in life that I was given.