We celebrate these wonderfully colourful, bright and bold women on International Women’s Day . These ladies live on the outskirts of Hwange National Park, who despite the many difficulties they face, are always full of hope!
Here is a group of extraordinary women who meet each week to inspire one another to keep on moving, to lift each other out of despair, and most of all to encourage one another to keep on GROWING. These are some of the strongest women I have met, they live in remote and rural areas and walk for hours just to make it to their weekly meeting. Each month we cover something different, a new skill in craft making, a workshop on business skills, exercise, or growing food to eat or sell!
Dorcas runs a craft shop in Dete, a little township just on the outskirts of Hwange National Park. She is the leader of this pack, and one of the most enthusiastic, inspiring and hopeful women out there. She never gives up, her dream has always been to empower women and boy does she do this. Dorcas is a safe-haven for women, she always has her heart and arms open – welcoming anyone into her home. She holds everyone together, just hearing her laugh makes one feel at ease. Dorcas encourages these women, we work together in running the workshops, although Dorcas keeps them coming and keeps them motivated! She sells the women’s craft in her shop, and we further sell them at The Hide Safari Camp!
Meet Dorcas Mbedzi
Mrs Atha Nyoni
Last week, I had an urge to go out and meet Atha Nyoni, one of the women in our group. I had not seen her in a while and she often asks for us to visit her home. Dorcas and I set out to her homestead, deep into rural land, we were lucky to be in a vehicle, although barely getting through the overgrown Ox wagon paths. It takes Atha about 3 hours each way to walk into town, she does this every week!
On the way out there, Dorcas informed me that Atha’s husband had recently passed away leaving her with 5 children. Mr Bitu, The Headman of the area explained that he had found out that Atha was in deep financial trouble and unable to afford school fees this year, she has nothing after her husband passed.
We found her, weeding her sisters field with her children. Athas crops have not grown this year unfortunately due to her being in the hospital with her sick husband. Despite this, Atha greeted us with an enormous smile, she has not given up hope, she knows she will get through, somehow, she has faith. Atha makes beautiful woven baskets made out of recycled plastic bags that sell well in our shop!
Chezhou Primary School, where one of Athas daughters attends, have created a beautiful nutritional food garden, Athas daughter brings food home from the garden to help feed her family. Atha is also going to volunteer at the school and help sell vegetables to the market so that she can pay off her daughters school fees too. This woman is a true inspiration, through her hardship and her sadness, she still manages to find the light.
We went on to meet with Loveness Dube, whose husband does not have a job. Loveness was one of the mighty women who attended our workshop on Conservation Farming last year. She was taught not to plough her fields, but rather use a hoe to break up the soil of a much smaller area, and cover the ground with mulch and compost! She had tested the theory out with a small patch of land as well as ploughed her great big field just to see if it would work. The results are astounding, Loveness’s field with the hoed land and conservation farming practices has produced 10 times the yield as her ploughed land, and it is half the size! Loveness will be able to feed her family for an entire year with her harvest of these crops. She also weaves hats and baskets out of palm leaves that she too sells in the shop.
Beads made out of recycled plastic
Loveness Dube and her family
Crops planted in a ploughed field
Crops Planted using Conservation agriculture practices – NO PLOUGHING. Both of these fields are right next to eachother!