Mamorobane Ngakane-Tsoelikana Council COE

Mamorobane Ngakane-Tsoelikana Council COE

Date: July 1, 2015
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Mamorobane Ngakane is a Councillor at Tsoelikana Council in the Qachas’nek District of Lesotho.

Ngakane is a member of a well-known women’s support group in her village. The group’s objective is to provide care and support for people that are ill. They help both patients and their families to manage dealing with illness, and to ensure that patients are living in a hygienic and supportive environment. They help people that are ill to adhere to their medication as well.

“We support people that are ill in the village by visiting them daily, by helping them to clean their homes and by giving them counselling sessions,” said Ngakane.

Apart from taking care of people that are ill, the support group conducts community awareness campaigns on HIV and AIDS. The group advocates for the prevention and spread of HIV infection through their “know your status” campaign.

In the village, many people now understand the consequences of being HIV positive and are informed of their choices in how to live life HIV positive. More men have joined the group and are taking part in the campaigns.

The group also encourages home-based patients and their families to begin their own vegetable gardens for to have sustainable food choices. Many of the home-based care patients are able to meet their daily food requirements from the vegetables they harvest from these gardens. They can sometimes sell their surplusfor a small economic gain as well.

The support group has also encouraged other women groups in the village to start communal gardens, which encourageswomen’s empowerment and economic position.

The support group has likewise established a savings scheme to empower the women economically. Members make a monthly contribution of M100 to a mutual trust. The collected money is then shared among the members after every six months. Women often use the money to buy household groceries, utensils and to pay for children’s school fees. At the end of every year the group buys clothes for the orphans of HIV within the village to support them and make them feel as part of the community after their parents’ death.

Gender equality is widely debated within Ngkane’s communities, yet people are still confused and fail to understand why gender equality is important. When confusion remains, women lose out. For example, men still control family decisions and they refuse to engage in protected sex. Husbands argue that as men they can have multiple sex partners. HIV prevalence rates are much higher amongst women, and it is not fair that they suffer from their husband’s choices without having a say in the matter. .

“From my experience working in my communities, I have learned to work harderto engage men in gender issues. I ask them to join the support group as this involves care work where they need to take part,” said Ngkane. If men see the face of HIV and AIDS, hopefully they will understand the consequences of their actions.

With Gender Links, Ngkanehas attended the Women in Politics training and a number of Local Government Centres of Excellence (COE) training workshops.

Ngkane acknowledges that, “attending COE workshops helps me improve my skills in understanding and articulating issues around gender. I sharpened my communications skills. Regular follow-ups by GL staff has yielded positive results for me to help me work with my community,transforming lives and helping people live a better life.”

Ngkane says she has also gained skills in conflict resolution and helping stop violence against women. Ngkane also learned about climate change and its effects on local communities. Hardworking group membersalso contribute a lot to changes in her community. Ngkane truly believes that it is her role to make a difference in other people’s lives. This is because the community elected her to be their leader for community developments.

Ngkane plans to replicate the support group and economic activities in other villages. She wants to embark on strong campaigns to engage more men in care work. “People should be taught to be self-sufficient in terms of increasing their own food production by growing more vegetables, both for business and household consumption.”  Ngkane believes that by working together, the confusion surrounding gender issues in the community will be resolved.

“There will be less discrimination of other groups within the society. Men will understand better that empowering women both politically, socially and economically will bring more positive prospects for the development of the country. There should not be areas of work that are deemed for “women” and others for “men” as the case may be, because that brings about discrimination,” said Ngkane.

“I do really think I am making a difference in people’s lives, as I have seen a lot of people coming to me asking for advice or counseling, especially on family matters. This made me see that people regard me as a very important person in the community. This is in addition to the important for the fact that they elected me once gain as their councilor.  I have been home base care worker for some time now and I still do my best in supporting people living with HIV/AIDS and their affected families, so my future plan is to help our government to achieve this goal of ‘zero new infections’ in 2015. We are already encouraging women and men to test regularly, with a special emphasis on pregnant women.”

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