Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa

May 24, 2011

SHG members begin to respond to challenges faced

Zanele Magwaza, Zamukuphila SHG displays reed mats
Zanele Magwaza, Zamukuphila SHG displays reed mats

During January-March 2011, 503 vulnerable women joined a Self-help Group (SHG) in their community in South Africa. A total of 29 new SHGs were formed. These new SHG members represent over 2,700 household members who are currently living below the poverty-line. Each woman received up to three training modules during this period and many were able to access a low-interest loan.

Sinamandla also worked with its partners on how women can respond to the impact of HIV and AIDS in their home and community; and how they can address gender-based violence that they also experience. Specific posters are being developed around these issues that are appropriate for use with the SHG members, many of whom are illiterate, yet who are determined to initiate responses to these challenges in their communities.

Zanele Magwaza, a 43 year old widow, resides in Madwaleni outside Kranskop (KZN) and is a member of Zamukuphila SHG. Life was not easy for her after losing her husband and she struggled to pay for her children’s school needs. She saves R2.00 ($0.30) a week and initially started taking loans from her group to be able to meet the school expenses as well as consumption needs at home. She then decided to collaborate with another SHG member to start an income- generating activity making reed mats and selling them in her community. She was able to access a loan of R150.00 ($22.00) from the group to buy raw material for the mats. Now she makes
an income of up to R800.00 ($115.00) a month depending on the number of monthly sales. Zanele says “The advice that I can give to other group members who want to start a small business would be to refrain from using your business income haphazardly. You need to work out the business expenses and profit so you can see the fruits of your work.”

Qalakahle SHG was formed in Maphumulo, KZN. The group recently had a discussion focused on the issue of child sexual abuse and the effects on mothers. Members shared some of their own personal experiences of abuse. Members acknowledged that most of the issues relating to child sexual abuse are not usually discussed
because the families where the children are being abused seldom share or report the cases for the fear of shame. When asked why do women keep such cases a secret it was highlighted that the biggest reason is that most of the time the perpetrator is the partner of the woman who also provides for the family financially. Therefore, economic
dependency would force the mother of the abused child to keep quiet
. Another reason is the fear for the child’s life and the family because even if the perpetrator would be arrested, it is for a very short period and the perpetrator is likely to come back and terrorise those who reported him. The group resolved that the first step would be to talk further about these issues among the group members to understand what is involved. The group will also make links with relevant institutions, such as the welfare department and nearby organisations, so they can refer some of the cases that they feel they cannot address.

Many thanks to all our donors over the last few months; we appreciate your support and helping Sinamandla to reach its initial fundraising targets on GlobalGiving. There is still a long way to go to reach our target, so please would you consider making another donation in 2011 in order to help Sinamandla assist up to 2 000 vulnerable women in poor communities before the end of this year?

Pleasee do think of any family member or friend who would be interested in the work of Sinamandla through its Self-help Groups and do forward them our website link. Do be in touch if you think of ideas as to how Sinamandla can attract wider support.



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Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa

Project Leader

Philip Donnell

Pietermaritzburg, KZN South Africa

Where is this project located?

Map of Self-help Groups for 2000 poor women in S. Africa