Eva and her mother Aida were employed as domestic workers in my first home – a small two-bedroom flat called Pension Courts. Eva started working for my family the year I was born and when Aida fell terminally ill and passed away, Eva took her place and continued to work for us. At the age of 16, Eva had her first child Mildred in April 1996 – only two months after I was born. She was essentially raising two girls, in two different homes. Eva would walk me to school and back, carrying me up four flights of the flat stairs. I would hear her sing gospel beautifully in our home and she never failed to attend church. She called me “my poyri” which means my daughter in Gujarati, and she still does. During the years that she was with us, Eva had another child – Boston. When Boston was seven and Mildred was nine, Eva’s husband passed away and she became a single mother. After 13 years with us, Eva disappeared from our lives. I did not know where she went or what happened to her. She had fallen ill, was unable to work and therefore had no income. In order to continue educating her children, she made the difficult and risky decision to sell the home that my parents bought for her. Eva now owns her own home. She lives just outside Lusaka city in a Ten Miles, a compound where the standards of living are higher. Eva lives with her two children in a comfortable three-bedroom home, complete with a living room, kitchen and dining room. Both her children have been educated all the way through high school. To me, she is a symbol of what a woman with determination can achieve. Due to the fact that Eva no longer works at our house, I decided to photograph her in a place which physically links me to her – the Pension Court Flats where we first met. My relationship with her is unparalleled.
Eva, speaking to my mother:
Life is difficult as a single parent. I think twice because of my children. I can’t just use money like that. I sold that house because of my children’s school fees. Someone said to me: “You are lucky you have two children- one boy and one girl. The problem is they don’t go to school. They can’t find a job. They they will work as a maid or ‘boyto’ to help each other break bread.” Now Mildred has completed grade 12. It’s Boston left to complete. Grade 7 passed, Grade 9 passed.I suffered a lot. Without you I would be on the street with my children. No one who bothered about me, no one that could help my children. I had to fight for myself.