Shaudzirai Mudekunye

Shaudzirai Mudekunye

Date: March 25, 2011
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They never said it would be easy

They never said it would be easy, though at the same time they never alluded to it being this hard. I have to start my learning journey with a phrase: Deep end.

I learnt to swim when I was three. My grandfather took me to the local hotel swimming pool, and for the first time ever, floaters on my arms, threw me in the deep end. My journey with Gender Links is much the same as that very event more than two decades ago.

I first experienced this working environment when I was lucky enough to go to the 2010 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW or Beijing Plus 15) meeting. I was excited to be going for my first time, however I knew it would be a challenge. I packed up all my school work, a mass of reading material, hopped on the plane, and off to New York I went. The running around for sometimes 12 hours of the day proved difficult, draining, physically and mentally exhausting. What I did not know was this is what Gender Links is like almost every day. Exactly that. A frantic deep end! One needs to paddle hard to keep above the water level, because if you fail to do that you drown. It is as simple as that.

I started as a volunteer in August 2010. My first assignment was to go to Zimbabwe to interview participants for BA that would take me six months to see through. What began as a good idea fast became a period of pressure, tears, anxiety and frustration. It did not take me long, however, to realise that the more you seek help the more you will find it, and what for me was a whirlwind of negativity, had to be changed into positivity by talking to the right people and remaining open-minded. So even though they don’t tell you it will be this hard, they also don’t tell you that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

More often than not members of staff are more than willing to lend a helping hand. I have learnt the power of speech and the power of diplomacy. I have learnt that there are times when the fight for what you believe in is a rocky path all the way to the summit and sometimes a hard fall right back into the deep end. I have learnt that where there are tears, there is sunshine, and that when all else seems to fail, there is ALWAYS a helping hand. I have learnt that the working world is not easy, and to look inside for enrichment, and when that falters, to look to peers. I have been in every department in Gender Links, in various capacities ranging from the driver to an assistant. The amazing feeling about that is that everyone has too, and in that the appreciation of everyone else’s work is a practical experience, you will never formally learn.

I have met many people from all walks of life, who have indirectly benefitted me through their accounts of how Gender Links benefitted them. I have swum with all members of the chain. Sometimes we just barely made it; sometimes we came out of the pool far ahead of expectations, and quickly ran to the shallow end to start again. I have seen the world and taken in the experiences of other women just like me: experiences one can only learn from swimming in the pool. It is highly inspiring to see the strong individual personalities that make up this chain.

Gender Links is definitely a place of growth. The lessons are never easy to learn, and more often than not I find myself feeling the overwhelming feeling of water surrounding my entire body and being unable to breathe. Many times the tears have welled up in my eyes, and on rare occasions perhaps with a slight whimper to accompany them.

As sure as the sun rises, that incredibly liberating feeling of my fingers meeting the wall, and my head coming above the water will follow: after an hour, a day or even a week. In those moments, characterised by laughter and a pure sense of achievement I am that three-year-old that just figured out how to swim, the hard way. The moments of triumph and defeat will always feel the same- and in turn so will character and the will to succeed. They may not have said it would be this hard, nor that it would ever get easy, but I find it’s true what they do say: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

Shaudzirai Mudekunye is the Gender and Governance Officer and Gender Links.

0 thoughts on “Shaudzirai Mudekunye”

Ephraim Mwayera says:

Keep up the good work, God will make a way where there is no way, there is nothing impossible with Jesus. GOD BLESS YOU BEYOND MEASURE OF MEN. Amen and Amen.

oli says:

i love it

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