Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
AT around 5:30AM daily, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) Correctional Officer Grade 1 Petronella Chadenga wakes up, does her household chores, prepares lunch boxes for her five children and husband before they leave for school and work respectively.
CO Chadenga works at WhaWha Medium Prison on the outskirts of Gweru along the Gweru Mvuma road.
She is a panel beater, the first female in the ZPCS in the Midlands province to have that job.
She is a hands-on wife and mother who takes care of her family and doesn’t need the services of a house maid.
CO Chadenga joined ZPCS in October 2013 and her duty is to rehabilitate offenders for their successful reintegration back to society.
But along the way, she found passion at WhaWha Prison workshop and developed interest in panel beating.
CO Chadenga started her course in 2017 and graduated last week along with other 20 graduates among them ZPCS officers and inmates with trade test certificates in various skills programs.
“I am married and blessed with five children, one boy and four girls, who are all going to school.
I wake up very early because I don’t value sleeping that much.
I don’t have a maid and so I prepare everything for my husband and kids before we go to work and school respectively. At work we work together with the male counterparts.
I am a trained officer,” she chuckled.
CO Chadenga said her target is to further her education so that she can be a lecturer.
“I want to proceed up to lectureship level so that I will be able to teach some of my colleagues and inmates during my service time.
After service, I want to start my own company so as to create employment for others,” she said.
CO Chadenga challenged other women to stand and take a lead in doing what men can do.
She was awarded a certificate in panel beating, which she said is a testimony to other women that nothing is impossible as they can do anything without failing.
“It feels great to be the first woman who is a panel beater, and standing among men as a lady.
As a woman I have done it and urge others that we can do it because nothing can stop us from excelling.
“As for this course, I was working with inmates but when we work we do not discriminate against each other, rather we are a team because our relationship is stronger as a team,” said CO Chadenga.
An African Apostolic Church member, CO Chadenga urged other women to shun fear and believe in pursuing their dreams.
“I started my course in 2017, now I have a certificate and my words of encouragement to other women is believe in yourself.
Do not let fear engulf your dreams. What men can do, women can do better,” she added.
CO Chadenga said she chose to be a panel beater because she loves facing challenges and overcoming them.
“I am a goal getter and if I want something I go for it and that’s why I chose this trade and with the support of my husband I am able to face challenges and overcome them meaning I would have fulfilled my passion,” she said.
“ I wanted to break that barrier because it is the mentality of the people that this trade is for men that is why I also chose to be in this trade.”
At the WhaWha Prison workshop, CO Chadenga specialises in panel beating ZPCS vehicles that would have been involved in accidents.
Article Source: The Chronicle