Many people living in the rural villages of Zimbabwe’s Gwanda region are subsistence farmers. Villagers often have little money to purchase even simple commodities for their families or clothing for their children let alone pay school fees.
Our partner Edward Ndlovu Memorial Trust is working with villagers to change that by using books you help to send to support communities’ income generation projects.
When Trena and five others joined a project in Sezhubane village and started reading books together, many things in their lives began to change. Here Trena tells us more.
Our group was a discussion group to start with. We are women, some of us widows. We are struggling together and we appreciate each other’s challenges. We all have orphans – the whole village have orphans in each home.
By reading books we came to appreciate that we could start a project. We decided to do this to help ourselves and the orphans that we keep.
Here people practise farming and people like keeping animals, particularly goats. The vegetation supports the keeping of goats. But culturally in Zimbabwe amongst village people, women do not keep animals.
But by reading books on rights, we discovered it is not wrong to go up against some of the traditions. So we started a goat project. And this is an example for other women; we can own animals without destroying our villages or our homes.
Each one of us contributed a goat to the group so we had five to start with. And then we asked for a loan to buy extra goats. It’s been nine years now and these goats over the years have reproduced. Now we have 27.
Now we have something to fall back on when we have got problems, because we can even sell the goats to solve some monetary needs for ourselves. We also get milk from the goats for our tea and porridge.
But we are looking forward to having more goats so that we are not only selling one, but could go out and sell 20. Which means we bring in more money. We are looking at having a number of goats – that will be beneficial to us as a form of income generation. So we are really thinking of getting into business through keeping goats.
As well as books about goat-keeping and business, we also read and discuss books on different themes.
Books on human rights, health, HIV and AIDS, gender issues, how to get birth certificates.
After reading books on environmental health we agreed as a group that each one of us must build a bathroom with a toilet next door.
We didn’t have bathrooms before. Now, outside each of our homes is a toilet. This is a big change in terms of health here.
We feel with this project we are going to be different to other women. The women who are not part of the project want to start projects. We feel we have the potential to change our lifestyles. We hope to set a precedence for how to care for orphans even if we are not formally employed.