Zimbabwe: Agnella Chikwari

Zimbabwe: Agnella Chikwari

Date: May 17, 2016
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I used to keep my problems to myself and this would stress me a lot. Gender Links (GL) taught me to open up and share with others and this is how I started sharing my experience. Every time I hear the name GL I am reminded of how I wrote my first I Story bringing out all the violence I was experiencing in my life. I had never shared the full extent of the violence with anyone.

I first met GL in 2013 after being introduced by Musasa Project. I attended all the phases. We were taught about entrepreneurship. I understood that women can also operate businesses and be successful the same way man can do. A number of things were quite useful to me. The first is the fact that gender based violence cannot stop someone from working. It is useful have a detailed business plan and to present it properly. It is also important to keep records of your business. I did not have challenges in attending the courses. No one would restrict me and I needed not to seek permission from anyone. I had a challenge of comprehending aspects as we were being taught at a faster rate. The training motivated me to register for O’ Level accounting.

Prior to the training I used to buy and sell clothes and do people’s laundry. The challenge I had was lack of financial knowledge. I would run out of business funds from to time and stop the business. I would have to restart every now and then. I was not keeping records of my transactions and I could not measure the profits from my business. These days I keep records of my transactions from stock to sales. This is helping me to measure the profitability of my business. I keep records in different books according to what we were taught. I now know what to do and not to do in business because I am now separating business funds from private funds. The training has helped me to be smart and presentable. Before the training I did not take seriously the issue of being smart because I had a lot of stress. I am now able to stand for myself and help others who are encountering gender based violence. To be where I am is all because of the training.

Chiredzi Council helped me by linking me to GL. My wish is that the council gives us a place where we can operate our businesses from. It should also give us opportunities to showcase the business skills we acquired from the training. The other organisation that helped me is Musasa Project. I was taught about a lot of things concerning gender equality and my rights. Legal Wise also assisted me by representing me in the court in the case involving me and my former husband.

My former husband used to be violent towards me. I was in polygamous marriage and I was being treated badly and differently from his other wives. The violent stopped when I reported him and he was arrested. I now get maintenance for our child and I have a protection order. I no longer stay with him. Nowadays when he wants to talk to our child he does it in a more responsible manner. There is change in my life and the way I relate to people around me. I no longer beg from people. My relatives used not to like me and they would treat me differently. They would shout at me and this would cause a lot of stress on me. Nowadays they are seeing great changes in my life and they are treating me as a worth person. They no longer say bad things about me. Some were avoiding me because I was a burden and they looked down upon me, but these days they are coming to me for advice. Those who used to be abusive to me are now afraid that I can have them jailed since I now know what the law says about my rights.

I was known as a miserable person in my community. It was difficult for me to send my child to school. I lived a sad life before, but now I am a happy person and my happiness is spreading to others who are experiencing violence. Some men who used to be abusive towards their wives have stopped for fear of being jailed. I always encourage other women to work and get money to support their families so that they reduce chances of being abused. I have also taught other women who I attended training with to bake cakes. I taught others how to wash and iron suits and others ways of garden farming. I have changed how people in my community see and treat women through the way I am living. People used to look down upon me because my husband used to bet me and my child was not going to school. Some would even laugh that my child is not going to school.

I was taught to treat myself better and to be patient. I look forward to be a successful business person by the year 2030. I will work hard and will teach others what I have learnt at GL training. I will not go backwards but will keep going forward in both my business and acquiring knowledge. I thank GL for their efforts. I am now much better than I was before. I will keep passing the knowledge I have acquired to others who may be in need.