Zambia: Tendai Siame*

Zambia: Tendai Siame*

Date: May 10, 2016
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“If you want light to come into your life you have to stand where it is shining”

I joined Gender Links in 2013, I came to hear about the trainings being offered through the women’s group I belonged to. I have attended all the three trainings which were all very helpful. Everything we learnt was good but what I found very useful was the business part of the training where we were taught how to make a budget the importance of record keeping. Apart from that we were taught how to do market research on what the potential clients or customers are looking for. I have worked so hard for me to get where I am today and I faced a lot of difficulties along the way especially finical constraints, even when I had the business in mind I could not start it. After my husband died his family brought in another man who they said was supposed to take care me and my children. I have four boys with my late husband, instead of this man being a provider for me and my children he became a burden he would not support us in any way. It broke my heart to see my children suffer and I barely surviving I was forced to sell some of my clothes just so that I could start a small business and that was start of my break through.

I started my business with just a K50 (R20 South African Rand’s) and with that money I started selling vegetables it was very slow, but I remained strong for my children. With time it was improving to the point that I was able to even start selling second hand clothes gradually life for me and my children started to change but I knew I still had to work hard. Currently I have a drug store among other things that I do, like selling vegetables and second hand clothes. The training helped me a lot when they taught us to research before we engage in a business I did not realise it could help me so much. I tried to apply what we were taught and the response was more than I expected even up to now my business is very well known and people come to look for me. After I did my research I realised that there was need for a drug store. The people in my area had nowhere to buy their medicine because there was no drug store. Being with Gender Links has opened many doors for me immediately after the workshops with aunty Rosemary the GL consultant another company came to talk to women about similar issues a lot of women stayed away but I was confident because I had just been taught I joined the programme and through that I even went to South Africa for a workshop with GLND. If I had not attended the workshop with Gender Links I was going to shy away like the other women. Before the training I was afraid of doing small things like going to the bank but now I even have a bank account and I now know the importance of keeping money in the bank than at home firstly at the longer money stays in the bank the more interest I get unlike at home. Gender Links also linked us with the council which has been very helpful. The council has helped me a lot they have made us aware of how they can help us if we want tenders with them, before the trainings I did not know how the council can help me but now I know better. Apart from GL I have had help from other organisations like Finca, they came and asked us to form groups and then they loaned us some money. I used the money that I was loaned to get a shop and I moved from selling at the market stand.

I thought I would never go through any form of violence. My dream ended when my husband died and someone else took up the role to care for my family. A lot of people think that abuse is only done physically but I have been emotionally and economically abused me for a long time. Even now he has not left my home but he does not help me at all I am the one that takes care of my children and now am even forced to take care of him as well. The only change there is that I have become independent I do not even mind that he is unable to help me with the necessities. I think there is a link between economic empowerment and reducing the gender violence. If a woman is economically empowered she cannot easily be frustrated or abused because they can stand on their own two feet and leave any abuse relationship unlike a woman who is not empowered.

My life has influenced a lot of people around me to the point that they feel they can trust me. I have been elected as the treasure of our women’s group and as if that is not enough I am also the one who has been put in charge of collecting all the market levy and taking to the council. I feel the community looks at me as a leader and a woman who is an entrepreneur who has diversified and is not restricted to one business. I am a source of inspiration for other women because I have manged to do everything I have without the help of a man. I feel am a living example that a woman can do whatever she wants if she puts her mind to it and that am even better than some men. My opinion is that if anyone can stand on their own financially then they will not stay in abuse relationships. I believe that if women are economically stable we will see the rates of violence reduce this is because the majority of women are in this abusive marriages and relationships because they are entirely dependent on their partners. If they can stand on their own feet there would be no need to remain in unhappy and abusive relationship.

I have learned a lot and I am applying these things in the way I carry out my business. I am also helping my fellow women when we meet for church meetings and even in market places anywhere I get the chance. In the next 15 years I would like to have 4 houses built each of my children so that they are secured and from those houses I can get money for their college fees. My deepest gratitude goes to Gender Links and all the staff my life has been changed and it will never be the same again. Regardless of what I go through in life the knowledge that has been imparted in me will never be taken from me for that am so grateful. My wish is that they even reach out to other women in other parts of the country because women all over the country face similar problems.