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Great-grandmother told she was 'too old' for a student loan graduates from university at 79 – My London

Graduating from university is a major milestone for students across the UK. For some it symbolises the opening of a new chapter and for others it’s the realisation of a dream come true .

And for one great grandmother, gaining her Masters degree at the age of 79 after fighting racism and discrimination, was something she always wanted to achieve. While living in her retirement home an hour and a half outside of London, Florence Zengeni saved up her weekly allowance in order to graduate with a Masters in Business Administration.

Only weeks shy of her 80th birthday, the mum-of-five with 11 grandchildren and six great grandchildren says she hopes to inspire her whole family and to use her degree to start a charity and help those in poverty.

READ MORE: London ice-cream shop with ‘queues down the street’ where people travel from Australia, Japan and China to eat at

The Zimbabwean-born nurse endured racism and fought against it at the hospital where she worked
(Image: Florence Zengeni )

Many years before graduating, Zimbabwean-born Florence worked as a nurse earning £14 a month. She used her salary to pay for her six siblings’ educations as her father only earned £22 a month. The healthcare worker then became an accidental activist after seeing the ill treatment of babies at her hospital in the capital of Zimbabwe – Harare.

Florence said: “There was a lot of racism towards the patients. Because it was a Black hospital, and the [white] nursing sisters were mistreating the patients. Beating young children, young babies that were not well.

“One day, there was a small baby who was very ill and the baby was just crying and crying. I was giving medication in the ward and the nursing sister came, lifted the small baby and started beating the baby and threw the baby into the cot.

“I was so angry, I didn’t know what to do. I was so angry then when I left I took the baby and put the baby in my hands and calmed the small baby and put the baby back in the cot.”

After that incident, Florence and her fellow nurses organised a strike and marched in their nursing uniforms to the Ministry of Health to state their grievances. But soon after the protest, she was expelled from the hospital.

Florence rallied nurses to fight against the horrors they witnessed at the hospital
(Image: Florence Zengeni )

The former nurse thought her “career was over” after she got “blacklisted” from working in the industry. But an opportunity came up and the mum-of-five was able to move to Zambia and work as a private secretary. She then convinced her boss to allow her husband to go to university and they both travelled to America.

Afterwards, she returned to Zimbabwe and found a job working on a four month temporary contract for an electrical company. But due to unfair hiring practices, she says she was let go after one month because a staff member feared she would take her job.

Florence said: “Unfortunately, I worked there for one month. The secretary who was working there thought there were no African secretaries who could do her job.

“When I was leaving that organisation, one of the directors who was very nice to me – they were all white and he said to me, ‘you know what Florence, I want to tell you the truth’.

“He told me, ‘it’s because this woman is scared you’re going to take her job if you continue working here so she’s coming back’. I was so angry and I left.”

Florence says she went on to work for a mining company which led to working for the Ministry of Mines until she saw an opportunity to attend university in Canada. Afterwards, she worked as a lecturer – teaching and empowering students. She even went on to set up a night school which still stands today in Zimbabwe.

Several years later, the former nurse moved to the UK and graduated from Liverpool University after saving her weekly allowance to complete the online course.

She said: “I was thrilled when I graduated. I have always wanted to do that to encourage my children, my grandchildren especially.”

Her granddaughter Yvonne who studied at Kingston University in London says that her grandmother has inspired her to further her education and pursue a PhD.

Florence has inspired her granddaughter Yvonne to do her PhD
(Image: Florence Zengeni )

Yvonne said: “I wasn’t going to do it but now I’m starting to rethink that because obviously if she has a masters we now have to take the baton further.”

Florence says that some of the people at her retirement home doubted she could finish her Masters because of her age, as well as the department of Student Finance who she says refused to grant her a loan.

She said: “When I was doing it, some of the [people in my retirement home] were like, ‘you are too old’, and I said, ‘no, I’ll finish this.’ When I went to Student Finance, they said, ‘you’re too old’, so I said, ‘I will come back and tell you that I’ve completed my degree’. So I still need to go back and tell Student Finance I finished my degree.”

The mum-of-five who grows onions and Covo in her garden and cleans her own flat, decided to save money by having meals at her grandchildren’s homes while using her retirement allowance to pay for her university tuition of £19,500 through a weekly arrangement.

Florence said: “I paid for myself. I don’t owe anybody. I was not working so we are just given an allowance every month and I used it for that. I struggled and I saved it. I used to go and eat at my children’s houses and [my granddaughter Yvonne] used to buy me food, I hope she will come and buy food again this month.”

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Yvonne says that she could barely get a hold of her grandmother while she was studying and that she would wake up at 2am to study and that many under estimate how difficult it was for the 79-year-old.

She said: “Every time we used to call her, you know you call your gran for a chat, she would be like, ‘I don’t have time to talk’, it was hardcore. People think, ‘oh she did her Masters’, but you don’t factor everything that happens with Masters. Factoring in that when she started she had to learn how to use the computer, in terms of saving files, even when editing – which programs to use. How to use the university software and all of that stuff.

“So that alone, besides even just doing the course – it was a major learning curve for her. I’m just awed by what she did.”

Nowadays, the 79-year-old organises events at her retirement home where she says her friends have experienced a different side of life because of her.

She said: “Every year I organise a function for them here, just to get together and just enjoy themselves. They have seen a different side of life from me.”

The 79-year-old says she believes that education can empower people and hopes to continue her work through setting up a charity.

She said: “If you do any little thing educationally, you will uplift yourself. I’ve seen people here in England suffering, so here I’m even trying to register myself as a charity so I can do something to uplift the people here who I see.

“I’ve got a brother who has children who are doctors and engineers and I encouraged them. Just to uplift them and it makes me go on. It helps me keep going on.

“If I see anyone suffering, I don’t know what to do, I have to find something to help that person. This has kept me going.”

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ACB announces squads for ODI, T20 series against Zimbabwe – Pajhwok Afghan News

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) has announced squads for three One Day Internationals and as many T20s against Zimbabwe.

Afghanistan’s tour of . . .

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Kenya, Zimbabwe excluded from Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers – Sportstar

Kenya and Zimbabwe have been booted out of qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals after failing to have their FIFA suspensions set aside by this week’s deadline, the continent’s governing body said.

The football associations of both countries have been suspended for “political interference” and were only included in the draw for the qualifiers on the proviso they would be cleared by FIFA to compete.

“The two associations; Football Kenya Federation and the Zimbabwe Football Association will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition,” the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule.”

The top two sides in each pool advance to the finals in Ivory Coast next June and July.



KISS to Become Knowledge, Logistical Hub of FIFA’s ‘Football For School’ Initiative

 

Kenya had been included in Group C along with Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi. It had been scheduled to travel to Yaounde on June 4 for its pool opener.

Zimbabwe was  in Group K with Morocco, South Africa and Liberia.

Morocco, who has also qualified for the World Cup, was scheduled to play back-to-back games against Zimbabwe in September and will now be able to set up friendlies against tougher opponents to boost its preparations for Qatar.

Both Kenya and Zimbabwe’s associations were dissolved by their respective governments last year and subsequently suspended by FIFA in February.

Kenya’s sports ministry disbanded its football federation as president Nick Mwendwa was charged with multiple counts of fraud, while the executive committee of Zimbabwe’s association was dissolved amid allegations of the misappropriation of funds.

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Kenya, Zimbabwe thrown out of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers – CNA

Kenya and Zimbabwe have been booted out of qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals after failing to have their FIFA suspensions set aside by this week’s deadline, the continent’s governing body said.

The football associations of both countries have been suspended for “political interference” and were only included in the draw for the qualifiers on the proviso they would be cleared by FIFA to compete.

“The two associations; Football Kenya Federation and the Zimbabwe Football Association will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition,” the Confederation of African Football (CAF) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Groups C and K will be composed only of three teams and the order of the matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule.”

The top two sides in each pool advance to the finals in Ivory Coast next June and July.

Kenya had been included in Group C along with Cameroon, Namibia and Burundi. They had been scheduled to travel to Yaounde on Jun 4 for their pool opener.

Zimbabwe were in Group K with Morocco, South Africa and Liberia.

Morocco, who have also qualified for the World Cup, were scheduled to play back-to-back games against Zimbabwe in September and will now be able to set up friendlies against tougher opponents to boost their preparations for Qatar.

Both Kenya and Zimbabwe’s associations were dissolved by their respective governments last year and subsequently suspended by FIFA in February.

Kenya’s sports ministry disbanded its football federation as president Nick Mwendwa was charged with multiple counts of fraud, while the executive committee of Zimbabwe’s association was dissolved amid allegations of the misappropriation of funds.

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