Liz Shim

Last year my husband and I decided to go to South Africa to get a better understanding of what Zimele was about. By the end of my trip I was amazed at its widespread impact in multiple communities, the integration and organization of the program, as well as the fruitful transformations that Zimele has facilitated in the lives of the women involved. Through the life skills courses, savings groups, craft and agricultural programs, day care centers, and computer courses that we were able to visit, it was clear that many women were proudly standing on their own two feet. The practical training, encouragement and support that they receive from Zimele results in true life change that will benefit not only the women involved, but their neighbors, the communities they live in, their children and generations to follow.

During my visit, the most memorable experience was witnessing the celebratory spirit of the women. Whether it was in the form of song or dance, everything was celebrated. Hearing the choir of women at our graduation ceremony and also the cultural exchange night was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. I was so overwhelmed by the sincerity, thankfulness and joy they were expressing with their voices. Similarly, I conducted a workshop with the women on how to bake breads, cookies and cakes. For days, EVERY single time I pulled a baked product out of the oven, the women instantly started to dance, sing and clap to celebrate what we made. It was a rare moment to cherish as we pulled apart a loaf of bread and danced while eating it. The faces, the smiles, the stories and the songs of the women will be stored in my memory forever.

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