zimbabwe: Maria Simbanegavi

zimbabwe: Maria Simbanegavi

Date: May 17, 2016
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Gender Links (GL) taught me that I should not look down upon myself. Even if other people have a negative perception of life, I should remain optimistic about life. People should know their rights and be able to show it so that they are not taken advantage of. People should treat each other as worth person regardless of their gender.

I met GL in 2013 and started training in October 2013, attending all the three phases. I was motivated to attend the training because I saw the relevance of the training at the beginning. The most important thing I learnt from the training is that women should be able to work and support themselves and their families. All of the things we were taught were useful in my life.

Before I started the training programme I was into broiler keeping and growing vegetables. I did not have the business expertise I now have. This affected the success of my business. I am still undertaking the same business but I now have the expertise and the business is running smoothly. The training helped me to be where I am today. I now know how to measure the performance of broiler keeping and that of garden crops separately. This is enabling me to attend to challenges in quarantine and the business is growing. I am also keeping records separately and this has enabled me not to mix private funds with business funds. I have managed to purchase my own residential stand through the business. The only challenge I face is that the business growth is affected by high expenses such as school fees. Chiredzi Town Council gave us their premises for our training. The council also gave us their equipment such as computers for use during the training. Musasa Project gave us moral support and encouragement; which was vital during our transitional period.

Prior to the training I was abused by my husband. He used to beat me up and was promiscuous. He would shout at me claiming that I was using charms on him. He would not sleep at home most times. My in-laws tried to reconcile us but he would not listen to them. He now knows that we are all equal and he knows the consequences of abusing me. When he became aware that I now know my rights, he moved out and is no longer coming home. Ever since he stopped coming home the violence has stopped. He does not pay school fees for our children anymore. My neighbours used to look down upon me but ever since the violence stopped they are seeing me as a worth person. Other women in the community are now aware of their rights. I believe that economic empowerment enables one to solve the challenges of economic crisis and this will reduce cases of domestic violence. I no longer beg my husband to pay school fees for our children.

The community is being influenced by the changes in my life. I used to have low esteem because of the violence I was experiencing. The society would look down upon me because my husband used to humiliate me in the public. My confidence is now restored and I am assisting other women who are experiencing domestic violence. I also refer victims of domestic violence to social organisations such as Musasa Project. I have inspired a lot of people in my community and they are coming to me for assistance on business matters. I teach them according to the knowledge I acquired from GL training programme.

During the training I learnt about marketing, market research, record keeping and business planning. I will continue to use the knowledge in my business. I also learnt about gender equality and I intend to keep raising awareness in the community. I also learnt how to use a computer and I am using computers in my business. My future plans are to see my business growing and I will keep learning so that I equip myself for the business. By the year 2030 I will have ventured into other businesses. I will be having buildings, cars, residential house and employees. I will also be having investments on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. I thank GL for their training programme which has changed my life and others. I wish they can also assist us to get funding for our projects so that we can operate at optimal sizes. I wish they can continue doing the good work and reach out to other women.