Sr. Tariro Chimanyiwa is a Zimbabwean sister who now is head of Emerald Hill School and Home for the Deaf on the outskirts of Harare. The kindness of Dominican sisters at her high school years set her on a path that her mother found difficult to accept.
After graduating from teacher training she worked for a year to support her mother before settling into her work as a Dominican sister. Some of her friends from college tried to convince her to focus simply on teaching and making a life for herself, but she stood fast.
Sr. Tariro Chimanyiwa’s family situation:
My father was already dead, and I was the youngest of five girls. All my sisters were married, so in the end that seemed to make it easier for my mother to support my decision.
My sister, who was supportive of the idea, also helped to persuade my mother to let me become a nun. After two years of secondary school, I enrolled for teacher training as convent candidate at Bondolfi College in Masvingo province about 292 kilometers (about180 miles) south of Harare.
Why the Dominican sisters?
I was a young girl when I went to college, but I knew I wanted to be in a congregation that promotes service and education so I chose the Dominican Order.
Bondolfi College also happened to have sisters belonging to the same congregation, and they paid my tuition. I mixed with young men and women at college: some of the young men were looking for wives or just fun.
Marriage didn’t appeal to Chimanyiwa:
I had the experience of meeting people of different beliefs but managed to remain focused and told myself that I wanted something greater. In my mind, I felt I would severely limit myself if I focused on marriage.
When you are in college you meet other young people who feel you should think about marriage at some point. I always explained to them that my life would be dedicated to prayer and service to the vulnerable.
Faith pulled her through:
Temptations were many but the pull towards the call to serve as a sister was also strong at that time, and it kept me going. I knew what I wanted and I never wavered from my faith.
On her ministry to the children of Emerald Hill:
I live here on the premises so I interact with the children and find pleasure in seeing them blossom. All I want for all the children who pass through Emerald Hill is to have a better life. Some come here as four-year olds and leave, go to work and start families.
[Grace Mutandwa is a Zimbabwe-based international journalist, columnist, editor and mentor. She was recenly recognized by the U.S. Embassy in Harare and the Humanitarian Information Centre for exemplary conduct and dedication in promoting gender equality in the media.]
Related - An act of kindness set her on her path by Grace Mutandwa