"Every day was a new adventure for me."
"When I arrived in Berlin I was nervous, but also very excited. I had never been to Germany before, so all I knew about this country was what I had read about it online. Four months seemed like a very long time to me. I knew that this programme would make me stronger. But I wasn’t sure whether how I would cope with the food, the weather and the lifestyle in Germany.
The warm welcome I received from the RSF Germany team on my arrival at the airport dispelled all my worries. From that moment on I knew I would enjoy my stay.During my first days in Germany I had trouble adapting to the times of the day in the summer because I was used to going to sleep when the sun went down. It was strange for me that the sun didn’t go down until after 9 pm. So in the beginning I didn’t go to sleep until after midnight and couldn’t get up until late in the morning. But after a while I got used to it. Like anyone who doesn’t speak German, I also had problems buying food. But that improved as time passed. Because I was the first out of my group to arrive in Berlin I had enough time to get used to all these changes. In the beginning the lifestyle of the Berliners was a “cultural shock” for me. That changed once I learned to appreciate life in the city. What I liked most was the diversity of the people there, and the way they don’t interfere with other people’s affairs. Things are different in Zimbabwe. Through the training programme I learned about a lot of new topics that are important for my work. It was exciting for me to meet new people and colleagues from other countries and visit different places. So every day was a new adventure for me. I learned something new, visited a place I hadn’t been to before, and talked to strangers.The flexibility of the scholarship programme meant I had plenty of time to myself. I was able to make new friends outside the programme and visit some of the places I had read about in my history books. And because the public transport system is so efficient I was able to explore the city, which was another adventure for me. I was able to see the sights, explore new places and sample a new dish every day. What an experience! My whole stay in Berlin was very exciting and eventful."
Sofia Mapuranga is a freelance journalist from Harare, Zimbabwe. She took part in RSF Germany’s Berlin Scholarship Programme for four months. She wants to use her training in digital security to keep her identity and personal data secure from the government and to protect herself and her sources from the government and hackers.
Mapuranga trained at Harare Polytechnic College and then did an internship with The People's Voice, a Zimbabwean newspaper. In 2009 she began working as a freelance journalist for several publications including The Newsday, The Standard, The Herald and The Southern Times. From 2010 to 2015 she worked full-time for The Zimbabwean. There she covered various topics and was particularly drawn to gender equality issues. During this time, she received an award at the UNWOMEN Zimbabwe's Developmental Reporter Awards 2015 for a story published in the "Our Voices" column which deals with women's rights.
Since 2015 Mapuranga has worked as a freelance journalist, reporting mainly on humanitarian issues. She is also a parliamentary online reporter covering all topics. She is co-founder of an organisation that campaigns for the rights of freelance journalists in Zimbabwe. The organisation is called the National Association of Freelance Journalists (NAFJ) and has networks in each of the country’s ten provinces. (Current as of: 15.07.2019)