I have known my beloved wife Magdalena Kambara for 12 years and we have been married for eight of those. She gave birth to our four children, and continues to raise them, teaching high principles, dignity and respect.
Magdalena contributes to their school fees by working at a local restaurant and retail shop. She may not buy them all the toys they want, but there is always a newspaper in the house. With the work ethic and strength of character she imparts, our children excel at school and we are all truly honoured to have a woman like Magdalena in our lives.
She not only cares greatly for her family, but also shows deep compassion toward those in need. On top of working and raising our children, Magdalena runs a welfare organization that cares for destitute people in the community. She runs a soup kitchen every week, and gives literacy classes to those who cannot read or write.
However, her compassion does not stop there. Magdalena’s biological father abandoned her, and she was left to be raised by an abusive stepfather. Not wanting her own children to live without their father or go through a similar ordeal, she fought with strength and patience, refusing to give up on me.
Magdalena helped me realise that I can be a better person and can continue to achieve, despite my failures. She inspired and motivated a change in me, and has always stood by my side to help me up, when I was down and out.
Although I was bankrupt, jobless, cheating, physically and verbally abusive to her, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and neglected my responsibilities as a father, she persevered to change me for the better. I will never forget the day Magdalena drove 200 kilometres to fetch me from a neighbouring city, where I was living carelessly and leading a shameful lifestyle.
While I was behaving like this, and avoiding my responsibilities as a parent and husband, Magdalena was paying the bills, working hard just to put bread on the table. I made it very difficult for her. Though tough times may not last, tough people do, and Magdalena is one of those people. I testify to this with tears flowing down my cheeks. She kept her faith in me, always loved me and still does.
Magdalena encouraged me to join a prayer group and go for counselling which helped me change tremendously. Though I was still discouraged and remained jobless, thanks to her confidence in me, which she shared with others in the community, I was able to find jobs and start my own gardening service business.
I have now stopped drinking alcohol, cheating and being abusive. I am a committed husband and active responsible father. I have a full time job and help Magdalena with her literacy classes and capacity building projects in our community.
I really love, cherish, honour and respect Magdalena. She did not allow me to throw away my life, my family and future. Women like Magdalena deeply care and contribute to the positive change in our society.
I know there are many more women out there that we need to acknowledge for the extraordinary things they do. I write this to honour all the phenomenal women this August. Men must give women a chance because they are agents of change. My existence is testimony to this, because a tough woman changed my life and I will celebrate her for a lifetime.
Barnabas Kambara is a “changed man, husband, father and friend.” This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service, special series on celebrating Phenomenal Women, bringing you fresh views on everyday news.
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