Most of the times things become harder for a person whose life solely depended on someone who dies but was the breadwinner in the house. Such people lead a dejected life full of complaints. One of these had been Gertrude Chirwa. Gertrude is a 67 years old woman who comes from Godiyawo village, Traditional Authority Mzukuzuku in Mzimba. She used to rely much on her husband who was a breadwinner for the whole family and was able to supply food and all household-related materials. Things came to a standstill from the day this husband died. She could not manage to buy washing soap as well as a body lotion. She felt that she will never be welcomed by anyone in the community for she felt she will be mistaken as a beggar when visiting friends.
However, as time went by, the Pathways for Successful Transition (PAST) project, an initiative being implemented by Save the Children in consortium with Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM), came to rescue such kind of people whom the society deemed useless. Chirwa was selected and started getting project messages and lessons through Vibangalala Community Theatre Group and project mentors who were visiting her oftentimes. Through the lessons, Gertrude’s mode of thinking started changing for the better. She joined a Temwanani village savings and loans (VSL) group where she was able to borrow money.
Through the same project, she received a seed capital amounting to K147,600 which was used in her dream investments. She used part of the money to buy a female goat, ducks, and part of the money was used to buy fertilizers and maize seeds and is expecting to harvest almost 10 tonnes. On the same note, another part of the money was used to grow soya beans where she managed to harvest 5 bags and sold them at K110,000. She took K65,000 and buy a brand-new bicycle that is helping her in different ways. The rest of the seed capital was invested at the dimba where she is growing vegetables, bananas, tomatoes, and Irish potatoes. The profits she made from all her activities have managed to raise her a new house. “I am now free, am no longer a slave to beg a place to sleep. I thank God for sending you to give me money to help my life. I am now able to eat as I want,” says Gertrude as she was smiling.
Gertrude is now able to eat three times a day; baths with soap and puts on body lotion. She says, “beka beka, idza kuno ubeke; wabeka? Wabeka? Uyu ni Tulip Body Lotion, wabeka? Uyu ni butex soap, wabeka makola? Mafuta anyake akuphaka ni grease ndalekera mupake ku ngolo,” (see, see, come and see, have you seen? Have you seen? This is Tulip Body Lotion, have you seen? This is butex soap, have you seen good? These other body lotions are grease and I have left them to be used for oxcarts). She was saying all this while smiling and dancing in joy. Currently, she is saving money at Temwanani VSL where is has K30,000 in shares and plans to buy iron sheets for her house.