By Perseverance Javangwe
Simukai Project members in Gawa area Ward 32 in Gokwe South are all smiles as they celebrate the best accomplishment to ever happen in their area. They are both in jovial mood posing for photos wearing their neat nervy blue t-shirts and hats at their project site. It is the first ever project to have been formulated in their district
These women of Hwenya Village, in Gokwe South part of Zimbabwe have for a long time been sidelined in important projects that help sustain their lives and empower them to do great in their areas. Without support it has been difficult for them to implement their ideas even though they possess great skills and have great mindsets.
Thanks to the Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau, women in Gawa formulated the Simukai garden project to help sustain their lives. Through this initiative it has also become easy for them to get safe water rather than fetching water from contaminated rivers. Jotina Huni and Mercy Munengiwa who are both the facilitators of the project, stated that the project has accorded them the chance to prove that women in Gokwe South have what it takes to do wonders in life.
“We started with what we called ‘mukando’ (icicles) then we had 500groups in ward 32 with 2 facilitators including myself. From there came the birth of this project through the support of Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau. We are looking to plant more vegetables. We wish to have more acres, have more boreholes drilled and we also wish to have millers and even vehicles,” said Huni.
“Since we started this project we are now nursing our seeds. Our tank was cited on the 9th of April this year. It took just four days to complete the whole process. As Simukai group we wish God can grant us the power to work as one. We want to become strong women who empower themselves. We want to do great things from this project including building homes,” added Munengiwa.
Hwenya Village headman Joshua Katsotso, stated that since Zimbabwe attained its independence in 1980 there has never been a project implemented in his area that empowers women. He stated the perennial water challenges have been rife since time immemorial demanding women to walk several miles to fetch contaminated water from rivers. However, the Zimbabwe Women’s Bureau through it’s projected has eased the situation.
“God and our ancestors answered our prayers and blessed us with such a wonderful project. Since 1980 this is the first time we have had such a project. It was tough to fetch water but from today onwards I am happy that people in our area now have a project that can sustain them while also providing water for people in our ward. I wish to see these women work hard. As a headman I Want them to work hard and avoid unnecessary fights, they should work together as a team. If they do that it will help us get new projects in our areas in future thereby developing our community,” said Katsotso.
Remigio Mhazo who is the councilor for ward 32 expressed satisfaction with how the project had started and stated that he fully believed that women from Hwenya village are capable of doing wonders through the project which he feels will go a long way to sustain many families in the village.
“I am happy with this project and the women here are hard workers. I can see they have a great future with this project if they keep working hard. This is the only project of such kind that has been established in this ward and even in our district. This a great initiative which we were blessed to have in our village. I expect to see these women being able to sustain themselves in the coming years. If possible they should be able to purchase vehicles for the profit they get. They should work hard and teach all the other women in different wards to do likewise. They should be an inspiration to others,” said cllr Mhazo.
Vegetable gardens are beneficial since they produce a variety of nutrient-rich crops all year round, and are therefore key to improving dietary diversity and overall food and nutrition. Garden project are also beneficial because they increase and diversify household income while providing employment opportunities along the entire value chain.
Meanwhile George Gogwe from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise said he is pleased with the project and how women in Hwenya village are working. He however, stated that there is need to engage someone from the Ministry of Agriculture to help them wherever they need expertise in farming.
“I work with our mothers here encouraging, teaching or training and also give them advice in their leadership roles. I am also helping them in drafting their project’s constitution. So far I am happy with what I have seen here but now going forward they need someone from the Ministry of Agriculture to help them in planting their crops. But I understand the person who was appointed to help them in that endeavour is usually out of the picture when these women want to work this then slows their progress. But we will coordinate and look for some stakeholders who can help them in their challenges. As a coordinator it is my duty to make sure we find the relevant stakeholders that will help them,” said Gogwe.
Constance Moyo the chairperson of the Simukai Project, however stated that there is still a challenge in terms of paying the security personnel for the cite.
“We have employed two people to guard our premises, however the challenge is we lack the salary expenses to provide them. Our project is still in the beginning phase and we don’t have money to pay them. So we wish if we could have support from well wishers so that we can pay our guards until a time that our project gives us profit,” said Moyo.
The Simukai Garden Project is a community empowerment program which seeks to build the capacity of Hwenya Village to become self-sufficient in food supply as well as enabling portion of the produce to be sold in order to generate income for families.