Swaziland: Fikile Maura

Date: August 29, 2018
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 “My husband did not believe any of the work I was doing for the community, until I invited him to one of my community dialogues. I have never seen him so proud of me like he was that day. Ever since, he has been very supportive and he is always asking me about the progress. He even drives me to the communities when need be.” This is a quote by Fikile, expressing how she appreciated the support of her husband on her community work. 

Fikile Maura is a married woman with four children, two boys and two girls. First encounter with Gender Links was in 2012 at a 50/50 Campaign at Royal Swazi Sun. She was firstly trained as Lihlombe Lekukhalela (caregiver), which she joined voluntarily under Ezulwini municipality and that is when she began her community work.  During the course of her work, she has undergone many other trainings which include training on GBV, child care, PMTCT, women empowerment and many other life skills trainings. Maura is now a Program and field supervisor for the caregivers’ program. They do door-to-door visits in the communities, teaching households about PMTCT, HIV/AIDS, home based care and GBV.  They also go to teach in community meetings, schools and at workplaces. Not only are they targeting women but their interest has increased in also educating men because they (men) have shown the interest towards this programmes. They have started to conduct Men’s dialogues where they teach men about health and wellness. The caregivers programme also involved in the ECCD programme, and the caregivers are responsible for teaching and feeding the children around the community care points.  

Maura is not only a supervisor but she is very actively involved in this work, and she shows her passion even during the interview. She likes going out to teach people about health and wellness, take care of the people who are terminally ill in their homes and educate and empower women to sustain themselves economically, and to improve their lives. They also doing the Dry-Sanitation toilet with the help of the Green Living Movement who introduced the programme to the municipality. This toilet is very eco-smart and the community was very happy for the building and the benefits of the dry sanitation toilet. This toilet dries human waste and turns it into compost, collects urine which is used as manure and water. 

In empowerment, Maura and the other caregivers started a savings and credit scheme and invited other women in the community to save money in the scheme, so that they can be able to borrow capital for their small businesses. This is one of the sustainable projects that the women are benefiting from. During the course of her work, Maura has had an opportunity to join the Gender Links SADC Protocol@Work Summit in 2017, which saw her Winning first position in the Drivers of Change category. She says that, for the first time ever, and joining the summit for the first time, she was very happy about the award. She was not expecting to win because she was not sure at first if participating in the summit would really be worth it. She thanked Gender Links for such a platform to showcase their work to the world, and for encouraging them to continue doing the work, regardless that they are not being paid for it, but they are doing it because of passion. She also thanked her mentor, Tibuyile Dlamini, Gender Focal Person (GFP) from the Ezulwini Municipality, who encouraged her to apply for the summit. 

 Maura’s has changed a lot ever since she started being a caregiver. She has grown to love and support members of her community and they have also shown love and support for her work in return. Having entered competitions like the Drivers of Change has opened many opportunities for Fikile to showcase her work and at the same look for donors to sponsor her work. She says she will continue to work hard for her community to make the lives of many people better. Maura has changed the lives of many women in her community through her work, by teaching them skills to make their lives better, like starting small businesses and money saving schemes. She has also gained respect from the community members, and especially from the community elders for the work she is doing in the community.

Fikile Maura has many things she wishes to accomplish for herself and for her whole community. She will continue to advocate for Gender in her community, through education and life skills, especially to the youth. She is also going to mobilize the community to plant fruit trees around the community to save the nature. One major step that Maura is looking forward to take next is joining the national elections next year, where she is at least aiming for the Bucopho position. This is because she wants to prove to other women that they can also represent their communities in parliament, as long as they work hard enough for the community.