Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach

by Thusanang Trust
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Empower Women through the Self Help Group Approach
Temperatures are taken before meeting starts
Temperatures are taken before meeting starts

When I wrote the previous report in October 2020, we were on level 1 of lockdown and there were very few restrictions on our daily lives. However, it was not permitted to hold indoor gatherings of more than 100 people. We therefore cancelled the year end function. The predicted "second wave" did hit us in December, when people traditionally go home/on holiday for the Christmas festivities. At the end of December, we went back to lockdown level 3. This wave was more serious then the first one, because more people got sick and died, and this time it was our friends and families who were affected. New Year celebrations were either cancelled or very subdued. We are finally coming out of this second wave, as numbers of new infections decline steadily. Most of us are adjusting to the "new normal" -avoiding closed spaces, practising social distancing, wearing our masks every day and sanitising often.

Our Self  Help Groups are adjusting as well. In the photos below, you see one of our Community Facilitators, Olga, taking temperatures before the meeting starts. The people are all wearing masks (even the grandchild of one member!) and they make sure they are not sitting too close to one another during meetings.

Our Staff Person, Vivian, broke her leg earlier this year but she is still able to attend meetings if some-one can drive her there.

Olga has managed to start a new group and there are even 2 men in this group. It will be interesting to see if they are keen on the same projects as their lady counterparts.

Boreadi  from the group, Phelang Basadi, borrowed money from the group during lockdown and managed to build herself a 2-roomed house. Once she has repaid that loan, she wants to borrow more money to plaster the house to make it look more attractive.

Some groups did close down for a while last year, while others made plans to save and borrow money even though they weren't meeting physically. A third wave is predicted to start in autumn, but hopefully we will be better prepared if it does. Covid has taught us all to be creative and to cope. 

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Members of the group practise social distancing
Members of the group practise social distancing
All are welcome, men and women
All are welcome, men and women
The house that Boreadi built.
The house that Boreadi built.
Even the grandchildren wear masks
Even the grandchildren wear masks

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 South Africa is on level 1 of lockdown now and most of the economy has opened up and people have returned to a more "normal" way of life. However, we are facing the very real possibility of a "second wave" of infections now so still have to wear our masks, sanitise and practise social distancing.

In these strange times, our self help groups have been carrying on as best they can. Most have started meeting again while adhering to the Covid-19 protocols. In the meantime, groups and individuals have also carried on with their income-generating projects as well as they can. Some of the members of Diatla dia hlatswana had starting learning to do patchwork last year. One lady really enjoyed this and made and sold some handbags towards the end of last year. During lockdown, she kept herself busy making cushions and she is hoping to do more and to be able to sell them. Usually Haenertsburg has a Spring Fair in September to show off the wonderful gardens here, and there is a market for about 10 days. Unfortunately this did not happen this year, so we will have to explore other ways of selling.

 The group, Itshomeleng SHG, in the Dikgale area, after a long break of winter and lockdown, have started planting a vegetable garden. The Department of Agriculture has helped them by donating seedlings. They have an agreement with a local school, whereby they use a piece of their grounds for the garden, in exchange for cleaning the classrooms and yard of the school.

This year we have not been able to have any exchange visits nor will we be able to have our annual Learning and Sharing Day in December. However on the upside, none of our members have contracted Covid-19 and they are all adapting to the changes and challenges of 2020.

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Unfortunately there is not much to report as South Africa has been in lockdown since the end of March 2020 and groups have not been able to meet in the "normal" way! However, some individuals have managed to continue with their income generating projects in an innovative way. One of the sewing groups decided to make cloth masks which have been quite successful. They have been able to sell these masks locally. Our Community Facilitators do still need to receive stipends so we would be very grateful for any donations.

We have been very fortunate because one of our donors has pledged a monthly amount to the project. We would encourage more people to do the same if possible. 

I do hope that my next report will have some real news about our groups!

Thank you very much

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Mmwangwana group members about to make floorpolish
Mmwangwana group members about to make floorpolish

2020 promises to be an exciting year for Thusanang Self Help Groups.  We have appointed a new Community Facilator in the Molepo area and she has already started 10 new groups. We hope that belonging to a group will significantly improve the lives of these women and their dependants. The next exchange visit will be held in that area in April.

The annual Learning and Sharing Day held at Thusanang on 3 December 2019 was a great success. 249 women attended this event and enjoyed listening to a talk by the guest speaker, Gloria Mangena from FAMSA (Families South Africa) Limpopo on Drug Abuse.

The CLA (Cluster Level Association) in the Mamabolo area decided to hold a Drug Awareness day on 22 February to inform members of the community about the signs and symptoms of Drug Abuse. As a result of this, one addict has decided to quit and has been assisted in finding a suitable rehabilitation centre.  

While women are able to borrow from their groups, and receive a lot of moral support from one another, the most important part of improving their life styles lies in successful income generating projects. At present members from various groups are involved in making fabric softener, floor polish, jam, meals, snacks for schoolchildren,  patchwork bags, beadwork, knitting scarves and beanies, raising and selling chickens and eggs and growing vegetables. Marketing remains a challenge so most people try to make something that will sell in their own communities.

FAMSA speaker addresses SHG members at Thusanang
FAMSA speaker addresses SHG members at Thusanang

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We now have 48 groups in the project and have started two clusters this year. These are a new level of groups where 2 representatives from various well-functioning self-help groups, meet to lobby for community upliftment. They identify needs in their communities and try to do something about them.

We are also hoping to translate the savings and minute books from Zulu into Sepedi and to print them for our groups before the end of this year.

Since our last report, we have started 6 new groups.  We always stress the importance of starting small income generating projects with our self-help groups. Recently members from several groups have met in two new groups to learn how to do patchwork. The ladies are very enthusiastic and are already making bags. They hope to show others how good they have become on 3 December.

We are all looking forward to our year end learning and sharing event to be held at Thusanang on 3 December. We expect about 300 ladies from all the 48 groups in different villages to attend. They will hear some informative talks, and watch performances of a drama and a poem. There will also be time for renewing friendships, learning from one another,and selling their wares. These include beads and bags, jewellery,  eggs, jams, laundry softener, scarves, beanies and vegetables. This will hopefully be a fitting end to the year's activities and members will go away with renewed enthusiasm for helping themselves and supporting one another in the new year.

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Organization Information

Thusanang Trust

Location: Haenertsburg, Limpopo - South Africa
Website:
Project Leader:
Ann Luther
Haenertsburg, Limpopo South Africa
$6,384 raised of $11,333 goal
 
90 donations
$4,949 to go
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