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Gwanda Women Overcome Nightmares to Find New Dreams in Health Clubs

A rubbish bin made from recycled soft drink cans...Gwanda community health club has become a source of livelihood to unemployed women and widows.

With high unemployment rate in the country, community clubs are filling the gap in Gwanda, equipping women with skills to achieve a better life through providing them with entrepreneurship skills and other tools for a living.

BY MELODY MPANDE | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | FEB 20, 2023

GWANDA (The Citizen Bulletin) — With only a Form 4 certificate, Anna Dube had been living from hand to mouth after failing to secure formal work.
It was only after she joined the “Asihlanzekeni health club” in Gwanda, Matabeleland South that she started to dream of a better life.
This is where her life-changing story begins as she narrates how she found resilience and success in Asihlanzekeni health club despite her troubled past.

“Not only has Asihlanzekeni helped me to take charge and control of my life, but l have been empowered with the knowledge and life-skills to sustain financial stability, and remain HIV-free.”
Anna Dube

“The “Asihlanzekeni” health club translating to “let's be healthy and hygiene conscious” has become a beacon of hope providing women with vocational training and life skills to achieve financial independence and reduce their vulnerability to HIV,” says Gwanda Mayor Councilor Njabulo Siziba.

“The club was established by the Municipality of Gwanda (MoG) in partnership with World Vision Zimbabwe to strengthen and improve economic independence and hygiene practices among women,” Siziba adds.
Through World Vision mentorship programs, Dube and other club members completed several courses learning about sexual reproductive health, HIV prevention, family planning and financial literacy.

Using knowledge and entrepreneurial skills acquired from those programs, Sibusiso Sibanda the club chairperson, says the club runs several income generating activities, a move which has lured many women especially widows.

One of their projects includes using recycled material such as tin cans and plastic bottles to make rubbish bins for sale at $5 each.
“From selling recycled solid waste, they are able to provide decent meals for their families, pay school fees and other financial demands for their children,” explains Sibanda. “I used the club proceeds to extend my house from two rooms to this big house that you see.
Another member of the club, Alice Masawi, adds that each member is mandated to contribute US$3 per month and the money is shared at the end of the year.

Masawi says they are now equipped with skills to make their own alcohol-based hand sanitizers, sunlight liquid, pine gel, Vaseline, and floor polish for selling to sustain their financial independence.
The club also runs other sanitation and hygiene awareness projects like clean up campaigns as well as cleaning drainages to ensure that the community is clean and free from diseases emanating from indiscriminate waste disposal.

“With these self-sustainable projects, we can stand on our feet and provide for our families.”
Alice Masawi

Masawi urges other women to join the community clubs so that they also learn more on health education and entrepreneurship to sustain their households.
However, it has not only been a walk in the park for the club saying they have encountered a lot of challenges, club member Sithabile Tshuma explains.
Tshuma says they attempted to run a microfinance unit without success.
“It is unfortunate we had to stop in October because some crooks were borrowing money and failing to pay back,” Tshuma says.

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