It has not been that easy to be where she is today, she has met challenges but through hard work and God's blessings she has made progress. That's Pamela Msukwa, Population Services International (PSI) Malawi Program Manager.
What are your full names?
I am Pamela Monica Msukwa (nee Chirwa)
When were you born, how many are you in your family and where do you come from?
I was born in Blantyre in 1977, in a family of four girls and one boy. I come from Kasungu North (Zozo Village, Traditional Authority Kaluluma, Kasungu).
Are you married or single?
I am married to Dr Gerald Msukwa, an eye specialist). I have two boys (12 and 8 years old).
Briefly tell me your education background?
I started my primary education at Mphungu LEA (in Lilongwe Area 12), then moved to Lilongwe Private School. From form 2 I went to Phwezi Girls Sec School from where I was selected to Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in 1994 to pursue a Diploma in Nursing. Immediately after graduating I got married and had my first child and I was home for one year raising the kid. After the birth of my second son, in 2005 I went back to KCN to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Service Management and graduated in 2006 with a credit.
When did you assume your current position at PSI and where else have you worked?
After my Diploma in Nursing I worked for City Centre Clinic then moved to University of North Carolina Project (Research Institution) in Lilongwe. I then moved to Blantyre where I worked for John Hopkins Project briefly before going for my degree programme. After graduation I worked for Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) as a Centre Manager before moving to PSI Malawi. I started at PSI/Malawi as a Family Planning Coordinator before being promoted to a Program Manager, a position I've heard since 2009.
What does your job involve and what are the challenges?
My job mainly involves planning and coordinating activities under an HIV Prevention program and more specifically the Condom Programming (Chishango male condoms and CARE Female condoms). The main Challenge has been "a woman talking about male condoms". People had different perceptions not within the organisation but outside but I took this challenge as an opportunity. My key to handling this was professionalism in handling certain questions that came my way. Professionalism was mainly instilled in me during my nursing training. At the moment I am also involved in an upcoming program on Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision.
What is your secret to your success?
I always have a positive attitude to life, never give up. Stressors and challenges will always be there in life but it is important to learn to manage stress and see how best to make challenges into opportunities.
Is this the work you wanted to do all along?
When I was growing up I wanted to be a secretary just because my mother was a secretary and I thought the job was well paying and I just loved the way secretaries dressed then. With time I changed and I wanted a career that would enable me interact with different people and finally when I was in form three I Knew what I wanted 'to be a nurse' because this would help me interact with different people at the same time help people. With time I moved away from bedside nursing, and now was more involved with preventive interventions and I enjoy this very much.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw my inspiration from my husband and children. They keep me laughing and loving life!!My inspiration is drawn through the loving and caring environment I was brought up in; I will always draw on that love my parents gave to me in abundance.
I also draw inspiration from the sacrifice that Jesus Christ took upon himself and also knowing that God is there all the time is a great inspiration to me.
Where would you want to be in the next five years?
I am planning on pursuing my Masters Degree (with an interest in Sexual and Reproductive Health) and rise up and God will take me through.
What's your advice to fellow women and young girls?
We need to avoid the tendency of pulling each other down (PHD Syndrome). Instead let us help pull each other up and appreciate each other, learn from each other. For young girls, be ambitious and know what you want in life, the world is different now, work hard now because the "fun" will always be there.
What else do you do apart from your current work at PSI?
My husband and I own a family cottage in Lilongwe so some of my weekends are spent in Lilongwe overseeing the business and at the same time to relax since the place is out of town.
How do you spend your free time?
I love relaxing at home with the boys and I am always happy when I spend quality time with my family.