ZWES corner

Marjorie Banda Growing up, Marjorie had no idea she would take up a male dominated career until she was encouraged by her uncle to enrol at Northern Technical College (NORTEC) and study a course that was different from courses girls would usually go for such as teaching, nursing etc.

Born on 4th December 1969 in Chililabombwe to Mr Titus Mwamba and Mrs. Joyce Mwansa Mwamba, Marjorie Mwamba Banda is the first born in a family of seven. She is married to Mr. Masauso Banda with whom she has three children.

Mrs. Banda who grew up in Chingola went to Nchanga Trust School from 1974 to 1982 where she did her nursery to grade 7 education which created a very good foundation for her to learn the English Language.

She later went to Ibenga Girls Secondary School from 1983 to 1987 were she did her grade 8 to grade 12 education.

After completing her secondary education, with encouragements from her uncle, Mr. Fredrick Chitondo she applied at the Northern Technical College (NORTEC) in 1989 to study Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology and later obtained an Advanced Technician Certificate in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technology in 1991.

She later enrolled at the University of Zambia and did a diploma in Project Management – Adult Education.

While at NORTEC, Mrs. Banda was the only female in a class of 21 students which made her male classmates to think she wouldn’t make it because it was a man’s field but she remained positive and focused.

Mrs. Banda says the Lecturers were very supportive and with time she won the support of her classmates as they realised that she was up for the challenge.

In 1990 Marjorie went for industrial attachment at the Copperbelt Bottling Company in Kitwe and worked among males in the same field but fortunately for her she found male colleagues who encouraged and appreciated women pursuing engineering programmes.

“Management of Copperbelt Bottling Company was pleased with the attitude and interest that I had shown to my work and they decided to take me on as permanent member of staff and pay for me for the remaining years I was at NORTEC and upon graduating I went straight to Copperbelt Bottling Company,” she said.

She later went on to join the University of Zambia in 1995 as a Senior Technician in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Section in the Resident Engineer’s Department.

Mrs. Banda then enrolled at Ferris State University in the City of Big Rapids, State of Michigan where she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering Technology and Energy Management.

As the case was at NORTEC she again found herself as the only female in her class at Ferris State University.

“The first day in class was interesting, my classmates did not expect to see a female let alone at the age of 48, but I however got the support from the Staff and indeed my classmates in the School of Built Environment – College of Engineering Technology, Office of International Education,” she said.

Mrs. Banda was then awarded as Ferris State University’s first Winner of the Excellence Award from the Michigan Department of Education – Breaking 2018 Traditions for Career and Technical Education because of her academic performance.

Due to her academic performance her name was nominated for The National Society of Collegiate Scholars and is since a Life Member of this Society.

“To the girl child do not limit yourself because of your gender, engineering courses can be done by any female as long as you put your mind to it. Challenges will come but what is important is how we react to the challenges, they can either take us down or we can use them as stepping stones (look for the lesson in it) to where we desire to be. Women in Engineering are being honoured for making this choice because they are making a contribution to the industry and are offering innovative solutions for customer satisfaction and value for money,” she said.

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Natasha Bwalya Mulenga was born on 14th January 1992 in Mufulira to Mr. Peter Mulenga and Elizabeth Nakanyika Mulenga. Natasha says she is the first born in a family of four with three younger sisters.

She says, “I started school in Kitwe where I did my nursery and reception at St John’s Convent School, from 1998-1999, my grade 1-3 at Chambishi Basic School and later did my grade 4-7 at Riverside School from 2000 to 2004. Upon passing my grade 7 composite examination, I went to Muzi High School where I did my junior secondary school from 2005-2006. Thereafter, I went to Helen Kaunda High School where I did my senior Secondary school from 2007 to 2009.”

After completing her Secondary education, Natasha left for Ukraine in 2011 where she did her Engineering foundation course at Odessa National Academy of Telecommunications University in Odessa. She later applied to study Civil Engineering the same year and was accepted at Civil and Architecture University.

“It wasn’t easy in the beginning but with the determination I had and support from my family, I was able to pull through,” she said.

Natasha says her interest in art and design motivated her to study civil engineering as a career.

She later graduated in 2016 from Sumy National Agrarian University and was the only female to graduate in a group of 36 students.

Natasha says her study did not go without challenges as she experienced mockery from some male students who thought she would not make it without their help, but because she was determined and knew what she really wanted to achieve, she never gave up or give them the chance to underrate her.

Upon her return home, she was privileged to work for Kansanshi Mining Plc in Solwezi North Western Province, under the civil section as an intern for a period of five months.

“It was a great experience to work for the mines because I was groomed by the best and taught most of the practical work I know. I was given a variety of projects ranging from works like analysing drainages and kids play ground,” she said.

She was later employed on October 2017 by the Local Authorities and is currently working for Solwezi Municipal Council as a Civil Engineer were she trying to apply some of the knowledge that was imparted in her and marry it with the physical world.

Natasha says, “This is the beginning of a great journey ahead and the sky can never be her limit, with God by my side.”

“I would like to encourage young girls out there in the engineering world to strive harder; you can surely make it if others have done it. I love the quote that says “NEVER GIVE UP, FOR THAT IS JUST THE PLACE AND TIME THAT THE TIDE WILL TURN” by Harriet Beecher Stowe,” she said.

Natasha says young people should take the negatives people say and turn them into positives for their own good and the betterment of Zambia and the world at large.

She says in the near future she wishes to see a female engineer become a president.