Mildret Mango – Zimbabwe

Mildret Mango – Zimbabwe

Date: November 30, 2015
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From a survivor to a horticulturalist

“My husband used to shout at me in the presence of both our children and the public. The violence has significantly declined. I attribute this to being economically empowered.”

Mildret Mango was referred to Gender Links (GL) by her ward councillor in 2014 and she immediately joined the entrepreneurship programme. She managed to attend two phases of the training but failed to attend the last phase. Her phone was not reachable prior to the workshop and the organisers failed to get hold of her. She found the lesson on the importance of market research and business planning very useful and she immediately put it into practice in her business.

Mango was working in subsistence farming together with her husband. The abuse she was suffering at the hands of her husband forced her to reflect on her life and she decided to run her own business. She wanted to use this as an opportunity to freely apply the skills and lessons she learnt during the training. When she started growing crops on her own the business started growing.

“My husband totally stopped supporting the family when I started my own farming business. He was in the habit of taking my profits and using them to pursue his personal interests. My children were chased away from school because I failed to pay school fees. The situation forced me to take my business seriously and depend upon myself. Unfortunately, heavy rains washed away two thirds of my first crops.” Mango lamented. “I also lost three quarters of my second crop after encountering a long dry spell. In July 2015 frost affected my entire winter crop. This was a strong challenge that threatened the existence of my business.”

To overcome the challenges that were facing her business, she approached her mother who gave her a piece of land. The piece of land was supplied with water by canal irrigation. Her business was boosted and she started realising huge profit margins.

“I used to counsel her before she encountered Gender Links because she was thinking of committing suicide. When she later attended the training I gave her a piece of land where she started a horticultural business. Her life influenced many lives because many women in the community copied the example she had set and they now have projects,” says Vaniture Kanda, Mango’s mother.

“The only action that I took to challenge certain social norms and values was when I reported my husband to the police for selling our cattle without my consent. My husband used to spend the returns from the produce without consulting me. He did all these bad things because I was not confident enough to do the farming on my own,” Mango noted.

Because the business was growing, Mango managed to employ people who help her with their labour. Community members were grateful to find somewhere they could earn a living.

“I noticed a big change in the life of Mango. I always help her with labour on her farm. I am hopeful that with the availability of resources she can do greater things,” observes Kainosi Makiramba, a community member.

Mango’s husband refused to accept that the change in his wife was as a result of the training she had received. He claimed that she was getting assistance from boyfriends and that she covered this up by saying that she was receiving training.

“My husband used to shout at me in the presence of both our children and the public. The violence has significantly declined. I attribute this to the economic empowerment that has come into my life. Previously we used to have serious problems with my husband whenever he refused to pay school fees for our children. I no longer ask him to support us,” commented Mango.

Mildret Mango was living in isolation in her own community because people viewed her as a burden. Now she is a source of inspiration and has earned respect from them. Women in similar situations approach her for advice and she feels indebted to GL. She thanked GL for giving her the ability to create new links so she can get assistance with some of the issues that affect her. “I usually assist other women by offering them the opportunity to work in my fields,” adds Mango.

Apart from GL there are also some other factors that contributed to the change that took place in Mango’s life. Her mother gave her counselling and advice so that she would not commit suicide. Other community members assisted her with food hand-outs and Goromonzi Rural District Council assisted her by identifying her as a candidate to be trained by GL.

“I also used to get assistance from my relatives in the form of food and clothes for my children. I joined a savings club with women in our community and it has helped me a lot,” Mango claims.

Mango has plans to invest in her farming business and see development. She has plans to have a bigger piece of land for farming. She, however, thanked GL for coming to her rescue timeously. She is convinced that the organisation came as an answer to her prayers.



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