Zimbabwe: Magaderina Chipembere

Zimbabwe: Magaderina Chipembere

Date: May 19, 2016
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Gender Links came to my rescue in 2013 at a time when all hope was lost and least expecting any help from anyone. That is the day they came to equip me with entrepreneurial skills to be able to sustain my life in the face of daunting challenges. I was very happy to be taught to use a laptop and create my own email account. I followed attentively all the activities of the five day workshop. Sister Thandi one of the trainers is so passionate with her work and she is very patient. Whenever I feel demotivated I think of her and the drive to move forward will be restored.

I Magadarina Chipembere attended the first two courses and failed to attend the third phase because I was out with business. The training helped me to set up a new business selling plastic buckets. I am now able to take care of myself and no longer relying on friends and relatives for survival. Chitungwiza Municipality once came to see my business but I am yet to receive any feedback from them. Nevertheless, I thank the council for identifying me to be a participant of the entrepreneurship training. I also benefited from the emotional support I got from my councillor.

I vividly recall how community members used to call me a witch and treated me like one. The thought will never be erased from my memory and it remains a major stumbling block to my happiness. I gave birth to seven children and only two are still alive. I lost five children through death on yearly intervals and the community cited me as the cause.

Community members stopped calling me with my real name and I became a witch in the eyes of the community. No one was willing to comfort me for the calamity that had befallen me or to be associated with me. I was not able to attend social gatherings as people shunned me. The incident isolated me and I was not able to do any business or attend workshops where other women were taught life skills. My livelihood was negatively affected and I was living like a slave.

My two surviving children are working in South Africa but they are failing to make ends meet due to poor remuneration. I have three grandchildren to take care of and the situation forced me to enter into vending. I was selling tomatoes, fruits and vegetables but the business failed to develop due to the way I was perceived by community members. I tried sewing and selling clothes but I failed to make it because the defamation of character I experienced after the death of my children had a great magnitude that was irreversible. My sewing business flopped together with my livelihood and that was the time I realised the intensity of the abuse I suffered from community members, the people whom I was supposed to look up to for motivation and inspiration after I lost my children and husband.

The training I received made me not to lose hope. I continued applying the skills I attained and I managed to start another business. I set up the business of selling plastic buckets with US $ 20 I got from my children.  I bought 15 plastic buckets from cross border traders for resale. I purchased the buckets at US $ 3 dollars each and I sold them at US $ 5 each. I realised a small profit which I used to store more buckets. I went to the rural areas with the second batch and I sold them through barter trade. I exchanged a single 20 liter bucket with 40 kilogrammes of grain maize. I accumulated two tonnes of maize which I am planning to sell when the demand goes up. My business is doing well because my target market is in the surrounding rural areas and not the community where I live.

I saved money through group savings and I started building my house but the progress is very slow and the construction work is taking too long to be completed due to financial constraints. My grandchild failed to benefit from the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) programme and the responsibility of paying school fees for my grandchild is weighing me down.

Despite these challenges I am determined to move forward with life and continue working hard to better my life. I am now able to face challenges caused by the way the community perceived me after Gender Links gave me the drive and the zeal to meet head on with challenges. I am now an independent person and the new business idea do not depend on the local community to be successful so it is destined to endevour.

Going forward, I wish to secure enough funds so that I will start a new business. By 2030 I will be owning a business complex where I will be conducting a variety of businesses from.