Swaziland: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe

Date: March 22, 2016
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Thabsile Mavimbela_ingardenManzini, Swaziland, 28 March, 2016: Attending the entrepreneurship training was an eye opener for me. “I use to think being a house wife and doing house chores qualifies me to be a good wife, I never thought I could multi task and still be there for my family. It was a norm that males should provide for their families not knowing that one day I would be left without that provider”. The demise of my husband five years back left my vulnerable and confused. I lament women, particularly widow’s dependency attitude on our spouses. When ones husband pass away the family falls apart, the family becomes vulnerable and the wives, lack the skills to sustain themselves, let alone use what is left behind by their spouse. I was left behind with three school going children to cater for. At the time I was young and sickly until I went out to find out about my status which proved my suspicions. I was indeed living with HIV, I accepted my condition and started living positively by doing all that I was taught at the clinic. At the clinic we started the “healthy living project” whereby I started planting vegetables next to my house so as to eat a healthy diet.

I am a volunteer at the community care point and work part time as a counselor at Nazarene Health Centre. My husband had left me in a four bedroom rented flat and three kids to look after. Before attending the training, I misused the money and ended up getting kicked out of the flat and end up approaching my in-laws for help. “After the training I started thinking about what I can do with my life so as to stop the dependency habit”. I started saving some of the money from rent and bought material for making (tidziya) part of Swazi woman traditional regalia. I got my training from a community development project. I then started renting out my regalia to other women at the same time adding on my stock bit by bit. Currently i can hire out for big events such as reed dance (umhlanga), traditional weddings and other traditional functions. I has opened a bank account for my business and keeps records.

 My standard of living has improved, I am able to sustain my family with the income I get and one of my children has completed school. I have also learnt to separate business from personal life. With the earnings from the business I am able to assist my in-laws when a need arises. My main challenge has been getting a place where I can display my art and raise enough capital to purchase more raw material. After efforts to secure capital from the rural development fund failed, I then approached town council for a stall which they allocated to me at the satellite bus rank twice a week.

Gender Links Entrepreneurship training has helped me record keeping and marketing strategies. My business also includes sawing and selling traditional regalia more attractive yet competitive, marketing my product means always wearing it to functions. “I was wearing it during the Regional SADC Summit and I got customers”. I also advertise the outfits using ‘whatsapp “, and many of my customers use “mobile money” to cut travelling cost and save time. Thanks to the training I can now surf the internet for new products and ideas on how to improve my business.

Through the training from Gender links and prio counselling skills I have taught a group of 40 women on a number of projects such as “healthy Living” whereby they grow vegetables using old tires, started a bottle recycling project “Stop Littering” deals with bottle recycling and has also shared with them my skills of making the traditional regalia. Some of the women in my community have followed in my footsteps by simple taking my advice their lives have improved. I share my cultural passion and business ideas with my daughter who is now bringing in new ideas and customers. I encourage girls her age to embrace their culture, this young generation. Through perseverance and keeping focused on my goal I have come this far, and overall my standard of living has improved.

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