Lessons in lockdown: The power of second chances

Lessons in lockdown: The power of second chances

Date: January 12, 2021
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By Shamiso Chigorimbo

Johannesburg, 1 February: Richard Yates words, “if you don’t try anything, you can’t fail,” resonate as I look back at the last 24 months as a PhD candidate, then part- time consultant, now returning to GL tail between my legs. As I reflect, I cringe at the number of mistakes I made. No regrets:  just lessons and experience.

I left GL in 2019 to pursue a PHD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, juggling school with being a single mother.  2020 was an unprecedented year, a global health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic that catapulted organisations and individuals into survival mode.  Things did not work for me in KZN. I moved to Cape Town and re-joined GL in late 2020.

My four-year-old son Kizito and I made the move from Cape Town to Johannesburg at the end of the year only to get sick on arrival. We both tested positive for COVID-19. The virus bowled me over, replacing the energetic, bouncy and ever- active self with a splitting headache and feverish hot sweats. I constantly passed out as exhaustion took over my body and mind. I am so glad to have recovered from that experience, and grateful to be alive having taken all the concoctions that are prescribed, lemon, ginger, garlic, vitamin c, zumbani and zinc.

As I write this piece I am mourning with my 94 year old grandmother “Mbuya Rachel Gaihai Chigorimbo” who lost her sister “Mbuya Susan Muvavarirwa”, to natural causes in the time of COVID-19. My grandmother  heartbroken that she cannot go and bury her only sister.

I count my blessings for this second chance to raise my son. As one who lost my mom at a tender age in 1989, living to see my son grow up and become his own man is dear to me.

GL has become a home and family in ways that I cannot fully describe. The organisation’s core work, gender equality, is at the very heart beat of my life. The organisational cross cutting themes: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) women’s equal and effective political participation; economic and climate justice,  are key pillars in achieving gender justice.

 I come from “Gen Y”, those born between 1980 and 1994., the generation of the “technological explosion  and the Internet”.  We are the bridge to the “21st century millennials” whom Beijing+25 envisioned would live in a gender just and equal world.  But patriarchy continued and COVID- 19 happened.

Professionally in 2021, I am super excited and looking forward to being part of the Action Coalition feminist movement and leadership thematic group. The group is drafting key actions that will guide the “reinvigoration and energising of feminist movements globally, while also amplifying feminist voices based on global solidarity.”

GL founder and outgoing CEO Colleen Lowe Morna, has been instrumental in my growth and learning.  In 2020 I wrote a Chapter in the esteemed regional SADC Gender Protocol Barometer, a bucket list tick and fear conquered. Thank you so much for the opportunity and looking forward to improved writing in 2021. After the writing workshop in January 2021, my sentences are shorter, catchy and bringing the vital news at the very start.

My current direct manager, Kubi Rama, the Executive Director of GL has also been a pillar of strength and encouragement  through her constant refrain: “stop, think, process and then engage”. This new season at GL continues to be one where many skills and lessons will be learnt and actioned. Each project and proposal is an opportunity to grow in my career and advance the work of the organisation.

GL Marketing and Compliance Manager Debbie Mukuku and WVL Grants Assistant Fikile Maviya  guide this young soul.  WVL Grants Coordinator Nomthandazo Mankazana is my loud and sensitive “partner in crime”. Media Manager Tarisai Nyamweda and Systems Administrator Fanuel Hadzidzi always have things in check. They are a great sounding board when I am lost. The Corporate Services team help me through  payments and reconciliations, currency conversions   and pre-payment approvals. Thank you!

I look forward to 2021 with gratitude and appreciation, for having made it in a year in which so many lost loved ones, homes, jobs and their lives. The drive from Durban to Cape Town with my son Kizito in his seat taught me that life is up to us. As the little Daihatsu Sirion weaved through the mountains and lovely landscape through the provinces I remembered Nelson Mandela’s famous quote, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

(Shamiso F V Chigorimbo is GL’s Policy and Movement Building Manager).

One thought on “Lessons in lockdown: The power of second chances”

Josh says:

An eye opening article on the crucial work GL is doing in various spheres—with the advancement and protection of women-kind as a core value—this is! Keep up the sterling work!

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