A wonderful, inspirational Open Day

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On Wednesday 5 August, a group of Zimele supporters, donors and representatives from NPOs keen to see Zimele’s programme in action, headed off to Swayimane, an hour from Pietermaritzburg, to see how this rural community has been transformed by Zimele in the past 8 years. This vast and hilly countryside is home to thousands of people and families who live a rural and often impoverished way of life.  But since 2007, when Zimele first launched its programme in Swayimane, there is now hope and energy and change. It was an inspirational day!

After a scenic drive and passing through the town of Wartburg, the group met at a home, reached along a dusty lane. Sleek, lazy dogs lolled in the sun. The guests were introduced to MaZuma, the hostess for the day, and were ushered inside a rondavel to watch the meeting of a self help group, with minutes read and taken, money that had been gathered handed over and counted, and matters discussed. The visitors were not excused for their lateness and had to pay a R2 fine – as would any member of the self help group!

The group then went to see the crèche that was close by where the little ones are provided with a stimulating environment as well as a place of safety and love during the day. Then it was off to the nearby Imbokodo Computer School, where students were busy writing a test on how to compile a CV – an example of the practical skills that the students learn during the 3-month course. Almost 400 students have graduated from this school and helped to find employment through improved computer skills. The final stop in this area was to visit the book and toy library where local children have access to reading material and educational play things.

The final stop before lunch was a visit to the tribal court of Swayimane, where a meeting of the Thembanani Cluster was held and an overview of all the various self help group and community upliftment projects was presented by the various representatives. Examples of the Cluster’s produce and work were on display: a decorated table for functions, beautiful beadwork apparel and jewellery, and lovely fresh produce. There was even a rather indignant hen in a box as an example of an egg-producing business! Everyone was delighted to nibble at freshly-baked scones from the local bakers.

After a trip along windy roads with spectacular views of the hills and deep valleys, the hungry guests were treated to a tasty lunch of chicken and salads inside a cool rondavel. The ladies who had provided lunch were delighted to be included in a photo opportunity!

Tummies full, the group headed towards the final stop, a meeting of the country’s first Federation, the Intuthoko yo Mama Federation, which was launched in August last year.  Federation representatives ran through their activities for the guests and highlighted the numerous areas of social improvement that they are busy with in Swayimane. The ladies also discussed how their confidence has grown as individuals and how they now see the potential within their rural community, thanks to the Zimele programme.

A tired group of guests then climbed into their ‘wheels’ and headed home, minds spinning with what they had seen and inspired with the successes achieved by the Zimele women in this remote community.

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