Zimbabwe: Alice Mataga

Zimbabwe: Alice Mataga

Date: May 19, 2016
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As my financial status took an uphill trend, my husband’s behaviour flopped.

My name is Alice Mataya I have three children, two of school going age and one who is due to start schooling next year. I am living with HIV/AIDS since 2009 but my partner Tony Chapo denied having anything to do with it. The main problem that led me to Gender Links (GL) was gender based violence that I suffered in the hands of my husband. He drinks alcohol every day of his life and spends money as if there is no tomorrow. He entertained himself at the expense of his children. We have twins who are not going to school and it does not bother him at all. They dropped out of school in form one. My husband is a carpenter but each time he earned money he disappeared from home only to reappear after spending all the money. I always find myself being battered for no good reason. My husband does not want to be confronted especially about issues to do with money.

The entrepreneurship training course I went through with Gender Links changed me into a new person. Writing down my “I” story relieved me from a sharp pain that I was feeling in my heart. Speaking to someone who listened made me feel better. I learnt how important it is to keep the start up capital and never to use it even when facing challenges. I was taught to appreciate myself and never to look down upon myself. I was schooled into believing in my potential. I learnt how to come up with a detailed business plan and I marked my entry into buying and selling.

With the money we got as allowances from Gender Links, I hoard sausages from a local meat dealer. A pack of ten pallets cost US $ 7 and I sold each pallet for a dollar and I realised US $ 3 for every ten sold. This was a viable project for me but the only drawback was that at times I would not sell everything and needed a refrigerator to keep the stuff fresh. Unfortunately, I did not own one and I stopped dealing in perishables and joined Zvikomborero Women’s Project. It is a group of ten women and we make dish washing liquid, toilet cleaner and tomato sauce. We sell it in different areas. On Mondays we meet to track progress and submit funds to the chair lady. Every month end we share profits after retaining our capital base. We are working towards opening a bank account for the project. My long term goal is to establish myself and start making cleaning products on my own as I now have the know-how.

This project has taken my mind off things in a way that has boosted my spirit and energy unlike in the past when I pitied myself all day long. I have now taken ownership of my life and am raring to go. For some time now I have not asked for money from my husband. I am now able to take care of my family’s needs from that little. It is not a huge leap but it is better than before. I am now positive about my HIV status unlike before. Since my encounter with GL my life is now filled with constructive activities. I never knew how good it feels to be actually self-reliant. This however, has not fostered some behavioral change in my husband. He appeared and disappeared as he pleased. He forced me to have sex with him against my will and accuses me of cheating each time I tried to resist. Despite such misgivings I am generally a much happier woman.

Lately my twins and I have been visiting the family support centre in Chitungwiza. The children have turned into uncouth little rascals who do not obey me and have no respect for anyone. Like their father, they disappear for days on end and appear without any explanation. They refused to be counseled at home and they always argued that they are mature enough to take care of themselves. Early this year they vanished for a whole month and were enticed into sex work by a certain woman whom I reported to the police but she denied it all. I do not know what to do with them. The family support centre has promised to help them through counseling. I blame my husband for all their mischief because he is not a responsible father. What hurts me is that he do not provide for the family.