MASVINGO – For residents of Masvingo particularly those who work in town, Chiedza Zano is just a banana vendor who is seen daily carrying a basket of the fruits on her head.
She enters offices, service stations and pleads with people whom she meets along the streets to buy her product.
Her simplicity conceals her true character; a determined widow with a big resolve to see her children make it in life. She is one woman who has walked the most difficult road that any African mother can ever go through.
Zano is a mother of four and she has two whiz 'twins' Ishmael and Maria Mutobvu and they have given her hope of realising the most in her children. Staying in a single room with their mother and two other siblings and surviving on a meagre earning that their mother brings from selling bananas, the two have set a record of their own at Ndarama High School in Masvingo
Maria and Ishmael have send the community talking and suddenly people are starting to have second thoughts about that 'poor woman' who is a vendor. Many have become inquisitive; they want to understand how she does it. How could she have sent her children this far just from selling bananas? The community view her differently and with more respect.
Ishmael and Maria Mutobvu have some of the best Zimsec November 2016 'O' Level results in the province. Maria has 9 straight As' and a C and her brother has 5 straight As' 2Bs' and 2Cs'.
Maria is the 9th best 'O' level student at Ndarama and Ndarama is among the best four schools in the province in 'O' Level exams this year.
The success of the two siblings has sent tongues wagging. People have been asking why such a struggling woman would think of investing all her little resources in the education of her children.
Zano has struggled with her children throughout and when they were in primary school she would do menial work at many different homes in the town like digging gardens, weeding, washing clothes etc. With the money she would pay rent for her room which is home to her and her four children, buy food and send her children to school.
The 'twins' got 9 units each at Grade 7 and they went for form 1 at Ndarama High. The fees suddenly went up as this was now secondary education and Zano had to pay $105 for each child.
"She really was struggling and we always had to have payment plans for her. We noted that her children were brilliant in class and we as a school had to do as much as possible to help and hence we bent backwards to accommodate her," said Shirley Makausi, the head at Ndarama.
Zano said the situation became particularly difficult in 2014 when the siblings were in form two.
"The situation became so difficult even those who used to give me part time jobs did not have money to pay. I almost gave up on my children's education but Mrs Makausi encouraged me to soldier on. I almost got to the breaking point and it is just at that time that I met Alice Machingambi of Capernaum Trust who used to buy bananas from me and she advised me to apply for assistance from her organisation.
"It was a big break-through when Capernaum agreed to pay the full fees for my children. They have been paying since then including the exam fees. All I do is buy uniforms.
"I have no words to thank Capernaum. The organisation has enabled me to go over an impossible hurdle. My children would have been out of school by now if Capernaum had not come to my rescue," said Zano.
The siblings are now going for lower sixth and Capernaum has recommended that they go to a boarding school. They are going to Zimuto high although St Anthony was their first choice.
Zano came a long way. Her family which came from Zano in Masvingo Rural went to Johannne Marange Apostolic Church and she was married to her sister's husband as a second wife when she was only 17. By age 22, Zano had four children.
"Ishmael and Maria are not real twins. Johanne Marange did not allow women to use family planning methods so these two are siblings who are just nine months apart. Everyone has always regarded them as twins because of the slight age difference", said Zano.
Her husband died when she was pregnant with the fourth child and was forced to leave the family home in Gutu because she refused to remarry to her husband's young brother.
Zano herself never properly went to school because the church beliefs were not supportive.
For the good of her children, she moved on. She went to stay at her late husband's house in Masvingo but was kicked out by her brothers'-in-law and that started another difficult life.news