Mercy - mother of three
This quarter we're proud to bring you a story from the perspective of a once unregistered mother;
My name is Mercy aged 49 mother to 3 children aged 15, 12 and 07, I reside in Umguza District with my family. I did not have identity card since I was born this was because my mother was a nomad we used to move a lot from one place to another until we finally settled in Umguza. Prior to the intervention by Zimbabwe Educational Trust and Trinity Project I attempted several times to be registered but I failed. A long list of complicated primary documents was given for us to produce to the Registrar if ever I was to be registered. With such long demands which I could not meet, I lost the hope of accessing identity documents. A lack of identity card for me meant that I could not benefit in the formal activities of the nation, I could not get a job or vote I could not access any humanitarian aid as I am living under dire circumstances of poverty. My children were denied their right to education. As a woman without identity documents I have felt how it is to be marginalised, despised, excluded and ignored, I have knocked on many offices appealing for help only to be tossed from one place to another with no positive results.
My story changed for the better when I attended an awareness campaign by Trinity project, the officers recorded my story and invited me to speak out in a community dialogue. The community dialogue I attended was very participatory as it afforded me an opportunity to open up on the challenges that I am going through. The dialogue had the district elites who included the District Development Coordinator, the Registrar General for Umguza who is the one responsible for issuing out identity documents, the Zimbabwe Republic Police among other stakeholders. On that day I prayed to God to give me the courage to speak out on how neglected women without identity documents feel, how the burden has affected me and my children as we are left out on any developmental programs. The people who deny us identity documents are all under one roof I felt it was indeed a chance for me to grab the forum and be an agent of change. I felt God had strengthened me to be the voice of the poor on that particular activity. I have no identity document, I have no work, if I had an Identity I would be busy like other women, I have nothing to do, so I watch my children and worry. What kind of life is that?
Zimbabwe Educational Trust and Trinity Project turned my story around through their advocacy community dialogues the Registrar vowed to assist me working hand in hand with Trinity Project and other stakeholders to eliminate the challenge I was going through. To safeguard me after exposing the mistreatment I had faced in the hands of service providers prior to engagement with Zimbabwe Educational Trust and Trinity Project provided all the support that I needed to start the registration process. The first step for me was to pursue registration for myself so that in turn I assist my children. Within a week working with Trinity Project I was assisted to get an Identity Card and Birth Certificate for myself. The second week I went to Mpilo Hospital being accompanied by Trinity Project to get a birth confirmation record for my children. At the hospital without Trinity Project lobbying for me to be given my records for free I was not going to be assisted on my own as they claimed search fees which I did not have nor could I afford. Trinity project mediated and I was given the birth confirmation records. At last I finally managed to register Birth Certificates for my children. They now know the joy of producing an identity documents whenever the need arises. They have been enrolled in school and are happily participating in extra curriculum activities like any other child of their age. I am really grateful to Trinity project as I am now fully experiencing a rebirth in every area of my life, I am looking forward to a positive and bright future for my children as they will not miss opportunities like how I did due to lack of identity documents.
The moral imperative for giving the poor a voice in poverty alleviation is evident, the bonus is that engaging with the poor also leads to better technical diagnosis of problems and implementation of solutions. Through the community dialogues, the poor deepen our understanding of poverty and how we can influence policy making on access to socio-economic rights for the deprived citizens. The capacity building of Child Protection Committees has addressed the issues of lack of information, education, skills and confidence on the service providers. The community dialogues approach provided an environment with opportunities for a more open dialogue and greater understanding between the powerless and those in power. Thank you!