Little Nyazema village in Murewa, Zimbabwe lies hidden between the rivers Nyadire and Munyukwi. It is surrounded by the vibrant and known villages namely Marumisa, Gwishiri, Magaya and a resettlement areas called “village 10″. It is in the middle of no-where when it comes to infrastructure.
The road that runs across the village is a feeder/secondary road between Murewa and Macheke. Only one bus passes through, and its referred to as a daily service. If you miss it, or it comes full you just have to wait for the following day. The other option is to walk more than 20 kilometres to Harare -Nyamapanda highway.
The children in this village have very long distances to walk to Magaya school. When Nyadire river if full they miss class. No reliable transport. Its really hard for women and girls of this village. As Maggie Mupanguri aptly “the bridge paKareza doesnt take much rain for it to overflow and close access to either side. Unfortunately the river has been seriously affected by siltation, because of ploughing on the river bands”.
There is no health care centre which is nearby. The options are grim. Walk more than 30 kilometres to Chitate health centre, there is no direct road. Walk the almost 20 kilometers to Chitowa health centre sincere there is no direct bus service. Only option for those unable to walk is to get a scotchcart!
As we campaign for access to treatment and education for rural communities, Nyazem village reminds us of the reality. These are the daily struggles for women as they provide care and support to their families, and care for people living with HIV. As the governments, donors, UN and others gather in New York in September for 10 year review of the MDG Goals, we encourage them to be practical. Remember the women and girls in Nyazema village. Support organisations like Rozaria Memorial Trust who are reaching out to such communities.
The 8th of May we celebrate, observe and mark Mothers’ Day. A special day to remember our shero’s, heroines in our lives. I hope many will spare a moment for that special woman in our lives, a mother.
Rozaria Memorial Trust was founded to carry the legacy of the late Mbuya Rozaria Marumisa-Dizha(1923 – 2006). Born in Murewa, Mashonaland East, Zimbabwe, she had to drop out of school to be married at an early age. A 3rd grade graduate, a widow for 28 years and a community social entrepreneur, she valued education.
Through selling produce from her little garden by Nyadire river, she paid for school fees, and put food on the table. In her old age, she cared and buried her children, who died of AIDS. She was a voice to reckon with in village meetings, protecting the interest of the poor, marginalised and vulnerable. Till her death she believed in quality community and social based care for the mentally ill, as she cared for her own two children.
Mbuya Rozaria would sleep well after midnight, and be the first to wake up the morning. In the rainy season, it drizzled down on her as she pulled the weeds from the maize field. Like many other village women, she walked long distances to celebrate new life or to console the bereaved. A solid voice within the church, she died an elder always present with youth in their gatherings.
As a Trust, we request you in your hearts and in your lives to celebrate the ordinary heroines, the sheros in your lives. We are committed to bring value to the innovation of ordinary women in our communities, as they promote life with dignity, education and health.
We give special attention to children living with HIV. We invite you to join hands with us. You support, gifts and encouragement gives hope and life opportunities to many. You can make a difference through a special recurring gift with GlobalGiving. We value all the support to children, through the Trust.
The social media revolution has been a plus in creating opportunities and leveraging the voices and visibility of women and children in rural communities, such as Murewa in Zimbabwe. Rozaria Memorial Trust has embraced these possibilities with zeal and gusto despite the many barriers and constraints that face such community organisations and networks.
The pictures, varied photos and videos that we have shared on flickr have given a tangible feel of the reality of our work. It has brought laughter and nostalgia to many friends, support groups and community members; bringing joy and excitement as members of a wider community. We have of-course faced the usual challenges, no real technical capacity; a poor single and old video camera that serves multiple functions; low internet bandwidth and access to electricity that limit what we can upload. We have recycled some of the pictures and still feel good that at least, we can give life and visibility to our work.
When we started on facebook, we were hesitant, unsure and yet driven by the need to bring out the voice and the visibility of the real experiences that we experience in our communities. We wanted and still want to engage, interact, share perspectives and challenge the norms. We still feel the digital divide can be narrowed if communities are empowered. Today we celebrate over 1,600 friends and hundreds of followers on our fan page. In the last two years that we have built this platform and used this network, our members and volunteers in the Trust have grown confident in public communication. We have used the platform to support our fundraising efforts, and many have responded with donations, gifts, advise and volunteering opportunities. It was therefore a great moment when one of our young board members, Kudzanai Mugaragumbo sat in the same room with Chris Hughes, the co-founder of facebook, both young advocates for issues of HIV and AIDS. We invite you all to friend us, be our fans, support our cause and know that you are linking with the spirit of our village.
The potential for on-line giving and fundraising has been one of the biggest opportunities and resources that social media has brought to community organisations like Rozaria Memorial Trust. The many barriers that we face for e-banking in economies like Zimbabwe, we have leveraged and benefited from platforms such as those provided by Global Giving for us to access a wider community of individuals passionate about our cause and our mission. We have been able to tell our stories of reaching out and providing access to treatment and education for children living with HIV in rural Murewa to a much wider audience. We have been able to receive training, connect with like-minded groups and have greater impact. Within 5 months of our global fundraiser for $10K in support of children living with HIV, we have been able to receive over $7k from 100 special gifts and donations. The outreach of combined emails, twitter and facebook as been a powerful tools for us. We hope this Easter, you will all use this power of social media to give, and enable us reach our $10K and have more HIV positive children with access to ART in the coming months.
Mobile telephony and its connectedness to various media has been at the heart of our efforts. With all the limitations of internet access in Murewa, and in the country generally, we have relied on the phone for relaying content from the community to the volunteer with internet access. We have used the phones to take some of the photos, and just text in an urgent message. Many of our friends and volunteers who make posts and contributions use mobile phones. The mobile telephony lies at the heart of e-health revolution in Africa is a welcome development. I shared this view at the first meeting and launch of the UN Commission on Information and Accountability on Women and Children’s Health.
Despite these possibilities, we have remained acutely aware of the many barriers that we experience to maximise these opportunities, such as:
a) lack of consistent and quality access to energy sources such as electricity or its alternatives. Rozaria Memorial Trust has no generator, so when the power is out, we can only resort to mobile phones, which also have limitations of its own, as such a community organisation can not afford high end i-phones.
b) cost of internet access and limited options on the market. There are very limited products on the market for internet access, including wireless services, especially in remote communities like Murewa. The NetOne and EcoNet services, do not offer wide range of options for community groups with shoe-strong budgets and yet whose potential can be leveraged by power of social media.
c) skills, trained and dedicated staff. This is also an area of investment for such organisation that is we are unable to offer quality resourcing. The meagre resources go to direct support to children living with HIV, the poor families and other such life-saving and supportive services. Communications and social media actions are mostly handled by volunteers and this at times compromises the consistency and quality.
The opportunity and benefits outweigh the barriers, as we harness the power of the diaspora, the possibilities of multi-media and the power of human voices, stories and experiences of our communities. This Easter, may you seek to reach out to Rozaria Memorial Trust through our multiple social media. And yes; listen to us on youtube, read some of our scripts on scribd and oh well, we are growing our linkedin profile!
Nyasha Matogo’s still holds great dreams for her children, in as much as she sees possibility for a future in her heart, despite the painful present situation in her life. A widow, in her early forties, Matogo is HIV positive, confined to her little hut and now partially blind. He two little children in grade 4 & 7 are her daily care-giver. They rotate missing school, so that at least they could go begging in the village and feed their mother. She was placed on treatment for HIV but now she cannot afford to walk to Chitate Clinic 15 km away or bus-fare to Murewa District hospital, from Jakopo Village. They live in Ward 8, Murewa, Zimbabwe.
Rozaria Memorial Trust staff were shocked when they visited her last week after receiving an alert from the community volunteer Pedzisai Fero. Matogo was married and her husband dies a few years ago. She was accused of the death of her husband because she was diagnosed positive when she went for ante-natal care for her last child and came and informed her husband. She was thrown out of the matrimonial home together with her two children. She is desperately poor and lonely. The support group has been providing her with some counselling and social support.
The local Methodist women have come in with some help for the children and have pleaded for waiver of school fees with the Parent/Teachers Association at Magaya Primary school. Rozaria Memorial Trust through its nutrition and food security programme is providing emergency food support to the family, to ensure that they have some basics for a month or so while a long term solution is explored. Matogo’s case is one which demands government social services support, but the government is pleading lack of resources and inability to provide. There not organisations providing wide-scale food related humanitarian assistance in this area of Murewa. It’s hard for Matogo, for the children and for all who seek to held and are also surrounded by poverty themselves.
At this moment, there is high policy discussion for review of the global commitments to HIV and AIDS, with a High Level Meeting planned for June 2011 in New York by the United Nations. This will be preceded by a Civil Society Hearing on 8th of April 2011. Such gatherings must listen the the dreams and aspirations of women like Nyasha Matogo, whose life tells the story of gender discrimination, impact of HIV on children and orphans, inability of the public service systems to respond amidst extreme poverty. Nyasha has human rights, deserves to live a life with dignity, and the same for her children. Community initiatives like RMT must be strengthened, resourced and support, because they reach to the such individuals who may just be a statistics in global policy discourse. Support Nyasha Magodo and her children today, through prayers, gifts or donations.
Published on RMT blog http://www.rozaria-trust.org on 19 March, 2011
23 February 2011
Creating a Supportive and Enabling Learning Environment for Children, especially Girls Living with HIV in Fragile Settings
Rozaria Memorial Trust in partnership with Isis-WICCE convened a consultation on creating a supportive and enabling learning environment for womchildren living with HIV and especially in fragile settings, on 22 February 2011, on the margins of the 55th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Over 60 participants attended from more than 15 countries, shared experiences, explored options and generated the following recommendations:
The workshop recognised that the family, the school and the community are three important settings in which children learn, grow and are enabled for quality education and training. With a special focus on children living with HIV, the following were the main recommendations:
Schools/Places of Learning
The workshop agreed that this statement will be shared at government at the CSW, Ecumenical Women at the UN; Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and the various regional and thematic caucuses, organisations and networks.
About Rozaria Memorial Trust
RMT supports initiatives that promote education, health and entrepreneurship for women and children in resource-poor communities Based in Zimbabwe,. RMT was established in 2007 in memory of the late Mbuya Rozaria Dizha, a community woman leader whose life embodied the principles of caring, sharing and innovation
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