Lesotho: Malimakatso Tjamela

Date: October 4, 2018
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I am a new person and I feel as though I can conquer the world!

People used to see me as a victim of gender based violence (GBV), but after I attended Gender Links (GL) training and met people who have also experienced GBV and shared what I have gained through the training, it changed the way people look at me.

I only remember that I was very frustrated when Gender Links was talking about gender based violence because it was something that I had lived with my whole life and it brought back so many memories. I knew that I was going to tell my story, but when we were given the opportunity it was as though it was the first time.

My name is Malimakatso Tjamela from Ntsupe Community Council in the district of Qacha’s Nek and I first encountered GL in 2014 when they visited our council. That meeting was life changing as I was able to face my worst enemy; confronting what I had been through my whole life. After that meeting I felt like a whole new person and I wanted to help abused women. I wanted them to be more like me; I had a desire to help women and from that day I told myself that no women would go through what I went through.

I am a farmer and I have been doing this for many years and I enjoyed it very much, even though I was about to quit. I wanted to quit because I was not gaining much, in fact I was still suffering because I felt that I was working very hard yet I had nothing in the end. I was very frustrated to realise that I was supporting my family and knowing that my children were looking to me as their mother.

I had always wanted to own a business,althought I did not have any specific ideas, but GL helped me so much because it taught me all the basics of business and I was able to decide what I really wanted to do. I attended all the phases and I was even asked to draw up a business plan which was foreign to me, but I managed it because I basically drew up what I wanted from my business. I got ideas about what to do from that plan and I could see from it that I was going to succeed.

I also had to write about my personal development to show how I was going to live my life and how to tackle challenges that I might face along the way. I cannot express how thankful I am to GL for the incredible job they have done for me as a person and for my community members, as I am able to influence them. I was able to touch a computer for the very first time and I was so nervous because at some point I thought I was going to break it. I was stressed about how I would pay for it if I could not even afford a cell phone, but our facilitators were very nice and guided us through all the steps. I created an email address and I told myself that I would use it no matter what.

There was something that needed to be done at the council and I was lucky to be one of the people who got the job and I was able to buy a phone that has internet. I taught some of the women in my village how to create their own email addresses and we are able to communicate easily even when we do not have airtime to call. Internet is very cheap and our lives have changed for the better now that I know that every day I have to check my emails. I was very happy when I opened my emails and received an email from Me Ntolo inviting me to the workshop, I could not stop smiling.

At first my husband could not understand all the excitement, but he could see that I had changed a lot. I always told him what we learnt from the workshops and he confessed that he somehow felt like he was also part of those training sessions. When I was teaching and convincing women to create email addresses he helped me even though he did not attend the training, but just because I would always report to him and even talk to other men so that they could also open their accounts. He was so interested that he worked with a group of men. He also even assists at home. My husband was not the kind of person who would help with family chores, but after attending the training sessions he just changed and helped in the house.

People used to see me as a victim of GBV, but after I attended GL training the way people look at me has changed. I feel like a new person altogether.