JOHANNESBURG – Women usually bear the brunt of the economic crisis – not only in Zimbabwe, but throughout the African continent.
Despite making the bigger part of the population in their countries and having advanced academically over the past few decades, African women remain on the back foot and marginalized when it comes to key decision-making positions in the workplace, politically, economically and socially. They are still victims of mainly outdated societal norms that restricted them to the household.
Not only are they overlooked when it comes to the creation of opportunities, they are also forced to hold together families that are about to disintegrate, or to fend for their children when the weak among men choose the easy way out when the family bill keeps on rising.
While many have chosen to either fall and roll over or live a life of incessant complaining, a group of Zimbabwean women has come together to challenge not only the patriarchal environment they live in, but also the harsh economic environment in which they are forced to compete and survive.
Under the leadership of Perpetual Masembura, whose experience in charity work dates back to her days with Africa’s largest disaster relief organization Gift of the Givers Imbokodo Zangempela Foundation is a three-year-old organization whose main aim is to restore, raise and empower the African woman.
Established in 2017, the foundation, loosely translated to mean “Distinctive Women), empowers women of all age groups in not only challenging existing stereotypes and societal norms, but also in training them in methods of self-sustainability, including entrepreneurship. They also take time to donate to charitable causes so that the less-privileged in society can also manage to get some relief.
The organization, whose board is dominated by migrant women, has three branches in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana, brought together by their desire to alleviate the plight of the African woman.
“I formed the organization with the Vision of empowering other women in terms of projects and stokvels and to support the girl child with sanitary pads and other toiletries, which many African girls and women still find difficult to obtain on their own,” said Masembura in an interview with African Voice Global earlier this week.
“ We also give back to the people who are in need in the communities to ensure that they also manage to get that feeling of decency. We have 14 Board members and more 35 full members in the organization, while our Facebook group currently stands at more than 2,500 members.”
In compliance with operational laws, the organization was earlier this year registered as an non-governmental organization under the name Imbokodo Zangempela Foundation, hitting the road running with a lot of entrepreneurial and charity projects, especially in South Africa.”
When the Covid-19 lockdown affected many people, who went through loss of income due to restricted economic activity and movement, the organization carried out charity work in two charity homes in Johannesburg, adding to an already impressive curriculum vitae of previous works done in that field.
“Late last year, we visited Itlokomeleng Old People’s home in Alexandra Township, where we saved about 100 old people with tea and scones, taking care of their whole breakfast needs for that day. We actually spent the whole day with the people there,” added Masembura.
“We have also visited The Door of Hope, located in Beria, where donated pampers and wipes to more than 30 babies. On June 16, 2020, we donated sanitary pads to a girls’ home in Cyrildene, which has 30 Teenagers. Our wish is to reach out to many Centers and Homes to assist the people in need. Right now, we are doing all this with the little that we have. We are looking for donors, but the work of charity cannot wait until someone comes along. Society continues to degrade and we do not have an extra day to do that which is required to be done today.”
In the philosophical spirit of “give a person fish and you have fed them for one day, teach them how to fish and you have helped them for life” the organisation is also involved in teaching women self-help projects like making detergents, soap and Vaseline, all done from personal donations from the organisation’s board members.
“With our projects, we have managed to train 10 ladies in making cleaning detergents. The project is doing quite well. All our products have stickers on them and we are now in the process of having barcodes on all of them products so that we can be able to put them up for sale in big shops in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth, where we also have a trained member. We are looking forward to open more branches in and around South Africa,” added Masembura.
The project to get sanitary pads and toiletries is still ongoing.
“Millions of girls are still struggling to access pads and that is why we have taken the challenge to assist. Having sanitary pads is the right to every girl child because it gives the girl dignity. We are calling upon well wishers to come forward and contribute towards helping our children with whatever donation.”
Help Imbokodo Zangempela Foundation empower vulnerable women and girls. Contact them on:
Perpetual Masembura on: +27 74 253 7772
Nomabutho Sibanda: +27 61 142 3450
Blessing Ngwaru:+27 67 241 0840
Facebook: IMBOKODO ZANGEMPELA FOUNDATION