Nonhlanhla Mpanza – Swaziland

Nonhlanhla Mpanza – Swaziland

Date: December 2, 2015
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My business was made a case study during the workshop and my eyes opened. I went home thinking about the potential I have and tripped and fell in town. Next morning still deep in thought about this new found me, I jay walked and was arrested.

Nonhlanhla is a business woman who does not limit herself to one kind of business. She has a poultry business during the day and runs a drinking spot during the night. In order to minimise capital costs for her poultry business, she exchanges mat making ropes for chickens.

Before her encounter with Gender Links (GL) she was a vendor selling her wares for school kids and teachers at Evelyn Baring primary and high school during break and lunch times. ”This is me, this is me. I never thought this day would come” she constantly says as we go on with the interview.

Nonhlanhla Mpanza was physically abused on an almost a daily basis, be it broad daylight, in front of her children and at times in front of neighbours who watched without coming to her rescue. She had reported her problems to the chief’s residence and they could not assist, instead the beatings escalated as her husband punished her for reporting him. She reported the matter to her husband’s church where he is one of the most holy of congregants, but behold, the beatings never stopped. In pain and dismay, feeling empty, hopeless and bleeding after yet another brutal beating she approached the police, although not to arrest the father of her children, but running into the night just to keep away from him until he calmed down. A change in police attitude worthy of praise is that they insisted on arresting him against her will, but the justice system cut short this attempt by police to curb gender based violence. Her husband was roaming the streets the very next day on bail, delivering more blows to her and telling her to call “her police” to rescue her.

After one of the beatings she was advised by a neighbour who is a care giver to approach NATTIC, an organisation that deals with abuse issues. She went to NATTIC and was warmly welcomed with all her torn, dirty clothes and the old shoes she wore while running from her husband. ”A clean big hearted lady hugged and cried with me”. That was the beginning of change for Nonhlanhla and her family. NATTIC personnel took her home and regardless of threats that had made others before them withdraw their help, these officers dared the devil and offered help. They insisted that they both come for counselling in the middle of a very hard scene of physical threats and damage to their vehicle.

Eventually they started the counselling sessions and life changed for the better as the beatings, humiliations and suffering stopped. NATTIC then referred her to GL for the entrepreneurship training programme that GL had just introduced for survivors of GBV.

”My business was made a case study during the workshop and my eyes opened. I went home thinking about the potential I have and tripped and fell in town. The next morning, still deep in thought about this new found me, I jay walked and was arrested”. From this day on Nonhlanhla has not looked back but is rapidly changing her life and her business. After the first lessons about business diversity she started an indigenous chicken poultry business. She did not stop there as she needs to do business any time that she is not asleep. Thus she started a liquor selling business. ”If I sleep I feel like I am sleeping on money. GL opened my eyes, I need money to keep rolling in” she says.

She had challenges with her vending business when she had to miss work to take care of her daughter. There were changes in schedules and the other vendors never told her about the changes. She was rescued and brought back on board because as she is such an outspoken person, the chairperson of the school quickly discovered that she was no longer coming to work and he inquired of her whereabouts.

At a personal level she now commands more respect from her husband who of late got employment and is now supporting her. ”This is me, this is me. I never thought I would see this day ” she constantly repeats herself taking a deep breath and holding back her tears. ”I am now a proud owner of a refrigerator, me, Nonhlanhla, not to mention having electricity at my home”.

Dr Khanyisile Dlamini, entrepreneurship facilitator, has so much praise for Nonhlanhla. ”From day one she always comes with more innovations for her business and she shares these with everyone”. What strikes the facilitator even more is the spirit of information sharing that Nonhlanhla displays during the training.

She, on the other hand, is grateful to GL and the facilitator whom she constantly refers to as ”our teacher”. Besides the business part of our training “our teacher” helped her overcome her personal fears and gave her a new self-image. ”When visitors came to my home I would send the children to attend to them and tell them I was not home” she says. She had been at the limit of her sense of worthlessness and she thought everyone would see her misery. She learnt about GBV and realised she was no more than a survivor and that it was not her fault or something to be ashamed about.

Nonhlanhla mentions in all our conversations that she is also very grateful to NATTIC for their role and for introducing her to GL. Her husband is a changed man because of NATTIC and is now very supportive and even named their now one year old son NATTIC. He now gives part of his salary to her as he says she is now a master of planning and uses money profitably because of her training.

She is planning to build a big chicken shed out of bricks and a drinking spot away from her homestead. This coming December she and her husband plan to start building a brick family house.


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