Mrs Chaniwa - Mother Earth's Legacy

Wednesday, 12 June, 2024

In the heart of Twin Rivers Primary School, there exists a living legend—a pillar of wisdom and compassion. Her name is Mrs. Maria Chaniwa, but to the students and staff, she is affectionately known as “Mother Earth.” On Monday morning, the school celebrated her birthday.

I sat down with her to unravel the tapestry of her remarkable life.
Mrs. Chaniwa’s journey began at St. Paul’s Teachers College in Murewa. Initially drawn to nursing, fate intervened during a night shift when she tragically lost a young girl. Determined to witness children thrive rather than perish, she shifted her path toward education. At just 19 years old, she embarked on a lifelong mission to nurture young minds.

From grade 1 to 7, Mrs. Chaniwa wove her magic in the classroom. Yet, it was grade 5 that held her heart—the age where curiosity blossomed, and learning became an adventure. She chuckled, “I can teach it all!” Her nurturing spirit extended beyond textbooks; she even assisted her sister in delivering two precious babies.

Guided by a mentor’s sage advice—“Prepare lessons and teach the bushes”—Mrs. Chaniwa joined Twin Rivers in January 1997. Initially, she taught Shona, immersing her students in the rich cultural tapestry of Zimbabwe. Her teaching tip? The first two weeks of the year are sacred—revisiting the basics to ensured a strong foundation for the entire year.
The classroom, to her, was a canvas where she painted dreams. Once, she faced a sea of 52 eager faces, but she believed the ideal class size was 25. In that intimate setting, she could nurture each child’s potential.

Beyond the classroom walls, Mrs. Chaniwa’s impact rippled across the nation. She authored two English textbooks for ZIMSEC, empowering countless students. But her legacy extended further. She introduced Sunbeams—a ray of hope—into Zimbabwe, crafting the syllabus herself. And wherever she taught, Girl Guides followed, bridging generations and fostering resilience. Parents joined their children in camp, witnessing firsthand the magic of growth.

In 1975, Mrs. Chaniwa exchanged vows, weaving her own family tapestry. Three boys led the way, followed by two precious girls. Today, her home echoes with laughter—14 grandchildren filling every corner. But her generosity transcends bloodlines. Orphans find solace within her walls, and family members in need discover unwavering support. Her mother’s legacy lives on through her—a beacon of compassion.

As we concluded our conversation, Mrs. Chaniwa leaned back, eyes twinkling. “Family,” she said, “is the heartbeat of life.” And indeed, her heart beats in every student she has touched, every lesson she has crafted, and every life she has nurtured.