In all the countries where ActionAid works, one of the most effective ways of helping women is by bringing them together. And Zimbabwe is no exception. In Chiendembuya District, ActionAid has formed 18 women’s groups that give women the opportunity to learn new skills and develop projects to improve their lives.
One of these women is Brandina. Thanks to child sponsorship she has been given the opportunity to earn a living, and as a result she can now support her niece (pictured below) through school. This is their story.
Brandina struggled to survive after her husband's death
Meet Brandina, 62. Brandina's family already struggled to earn a living, but when her husband died in 2005, she was pushed even deeper into poverty. As a single woman her voice went unheard.
Three years later, in 2008, Brandina’s niece, Vimbiso, came to live with her. Vimbiso’s parents were also finding it difficult to support their family, so migrated to find work, leaving Vimbiso with Brandina.
“Vimbiso is my brother’s daughter," Brandina explained. "They moved to Mozambique to find work. I agreed to look after her; it was nice to have the company after my husband died. But I struggled to cover our needs. Vimbiso was often chased from school for not paying the fees; she didn’t have a uniform, and she didn’t have lunch to eat. I felt sad and embarrassed.”
Joining an ActionAid women's group
In 2012, all that changed. ActionAid formed a women’s group in Brandina’s community to help develop the knowledge, skills, confidence and incomes of women. Group members had the opportunity to discuss the problems they faced; learn about important topics such as women’s rights, hygiene and healthy eating; and to learn skills to improve their lives.
ActionAid gave the group a grant of £350 to develop sources of income. They decided to use this money to start a goat rearing project, and each member was given two goats.
Brandina now has five goats, and she has started to keep chickens as well to boost her income further. This has not only helped her but also ensured Vimbiso could continue her education.
“My group meets once a month and I have learnt so much." Brandina explains. "I now feel assertive and empowered. People now respect me because they can see what I am achieving. I can now cover Vimbiso’s school fees; she has a nice, neat uniform, and carries lunch to school every day. My hope is to see Vimbiso finish her education and go to university.”
Now Brandina can afford to send her niece to school
Brandina’s niece Vimbiso is delighted with the changes her aunt has managed to bring. She no longer misses school, as her fees are now covered. She has a uniform and can even take lunch to school.
“My grades were low at the end of each term because I missed so many classes," Brandina told us. "But now I am doing well in school. Before my aunt joined the group and started to rear goats, I never took lunch to school, but these days I take lunch every day, such as cowpeas, rice, bread or sweet potatoes. I enjoy English and Maths, and I’d like to be a nurse when I grow up – I want to help the sick.”
Thanks to child sponsorship, ActionAid will continue to support Brandina’s women’s group to further develop their projects and suport more women and children. Brandina is excited about the future: “My group also has further plans to improve our lives; together we want to grow enough vegetables to supply our whole community.”
If you already sponsor a child – thank you. It's your support that means we can help give women like Brandina - and the next generation - a better future. Why not share this blog on social media to tell your friends and family about the impact of child sponsorship?
If you aren't yet a child sponsor but have been inspired by Brandina's story then please consider sponsoring a child with ActionAid. It really does change lives, for good.
Photos: ActionAid Zimbabwe