Life With A Stepmother

By Joseline Mushimiyimana

Nonensaba was nine years old when he found himself in the care of his stepmother after his father’s passing. His biological mother had previously succumbed to diabetes in 2003. Following his father’s remarriage, Nonensaba’s life with his stepmother began. His father cherished him greatly, as he was the sole boy amidst his sisters. Two girls, aged 5 and 3, were part of the family.


This special attention from Nonensaba’s father caused his stepmother to feel jealous and discontented. She would quarrel with his father over the treatment of the children prior to his passing. Upon returning from the market, his father would distribute bread among the children. Unfortunately, Nonensaba consistently received a larger piece, leading to negative consequences in his life.


Upon his father’s death, Nonensaba’s misery intensified due to mistreatment from his stepmother. This mistreatment included unwarranted physical abuse, such as slaps and strikes. Unlike his step-siblings, he was denied support and care when he fell ill, often having to seek medical attention on his own. Additionally, he was unfairly tasked with chores that were beyond his capacity, while others were allowed to rest.


As Nonensaba turned twelve, he realized that his current circumstances were untenable. Despite his young age, he understood that remaining with his stepmother was detrimental to his well-being. Fueled by the desire to be treated equitably, he made the courageous decision to leave his stepmother’s home and seek refuge with a local pastor from the Zambemalamo church. Taking only his clothes and school bag, he embarked on this new chapter.


Nonensaba’s departure was driven by his longing for equal treatment among his peers. The consistent disparity in treatment weighed heavily on him, and he yearned for a life where he would be regarded just like any other child.

When Nonensaba reached the age of twelve, his face started to look a bit more grown. He began developing the signs of growing a mustache on his cheek. I can say that he looked a bit more orderly than he did before. One could tell that he was ready to make his own decisions as a child. As a young boy, he also had dreams like other children do. He dreamt of becoming a professor when he grew up.


The pastor saw the life of the young boy was being ruined and decided to take him to his place in collaboration with the organization called Plan Malawi. When the pastor met Nonensaba, the first sentence that came out of his mouth was, “Papa pastor, I need your help because I am suffering where I stay.” This was an act of bravery for him to approach the pastor. The old pastor replied with a concerned expression, “Tell me, my son. I am listening to you, and if anything, I will help you.” Nonensaba explained to the pastor, “Since my father passed away, I have never been happy as a child. My stepmother mistreats me, and I would like to get help from you.” The pastor agreed to help him by asking if he would agree to move out and stay at his place.


The stepmother did not hesitate to give away the child since there was no good relationship between them anyway. The pastor went to the Plan Malawi organization and explained the boy’s wish. They gave them an appointment to come together with the stepmother. Plan Malawi is an organization working in Dowa district to fight for the rights of children and women. Whenever a child or a woman feels like their rights are violated, that’s where they go. When the appointment date arrived, they all reached there on time, at 10:00 am. They were welcomed by a caseworker to discuss the boy’s case.


Surprisingly, before the boy could even explain himself, the stepmother intervened and told the officer, “I do not want to stay with the boy, and if there’s a way, he should move out of my house and find somewhere else to go.” The officer was surprised to hear such words from a mother. The pastor told the officer, “I am fine with the boy moving to my place, and he will be treated nicely like my other children. I just don’t want this to happen secretly.” The officer gave them papers to sign, confirming that she has handed over the child and she won’t reclaim the child. The boy was super excited to see how smoothly the process went since it was his wish. There were no feelings of regret.


After leaving his stepmother, life started changing in a way that he lacked nothing. When the other children ate breakfast, he would join them. He did not experience any form of segregation since he was adopted by parents who loved and feared God. They took him to a nice school where the pastor’s children were studying. He attended Robert Blake Secondary School to complete his high school education. The education method required students to sleep at school to avoid distractions at home. His new parents would always send him pocket money and school fees.


His parents introduced him to a life of prayer and fearing God. He started going to church every Sunday with his new parents. The boy began to live a normal life like other children without being segregated. He would thank God through prayer for giving him loving parents who cherished and cared for him. Nonensaba is now pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Malawi University of Science and Technology. He is now 19 years old and enjoying university life. It changed his life positively, and he now believes that his dream of becoming a professor will soon become a reality. The emotional support he received had a significant effect. Due to this support, he was able to focus on building his life, and without it, he would not have made it this far.


15 August, 2023