Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness…
Yesterday Marty and I went to our first Kufusa Mari Field Day in Nyanga. Field days are graduation ceremonies for ASAP’s rural savings club program. In the Kufusa Mari program, participants, mainly women, pool their money together and take turns loaning it out to one another, so that they can start small income-generating businesses. The program is directed by the participants themselves who write their own constitution, keep their own books, and make all group decisions. Women and men graduate when the field officers decide they are capable of carrying on their savings activities without supervision. Thus, the field days are a time for celebration of success!
Many of these women have become capable of paying their children’s school fees, improving their family’s nutrition, or paying a family member’s medical costs. The program has truly changed participants’ lives and they came yesterday ready to show their joy! The participants performed skits, songs, dances, and poetry expressing their happiness and success, as well as some of the community’s continuing concerns. One of my favorite performances was from a group of children who sang a song about the dangers of AIDS and how to avoid contracting the disease.
At the end of the day, Joseph Miti, ASAP’s Projects Manager, and Francis Zengeni, the Field Officer for the area, awarded certificates and t-shirts to 150 graduating participants. They joyfully accepted their awards and danced around the field wearing their new shirts and holding their certificates in the air.
The entire celebration was filled with joy. I had the chance to talk with several of the graduating women. They all seemed happy to joke good naturedly, asking me questions about Marty, and commenting that he was very handsome… for a white man. Yet, the burden of Zimbabwe’s current reality was not far away. When I asked them about their families, I most often heard stories of death, disease, and devastating poverty. In the midst of such painful lives, Kufusa Mari promises hope that things can change. After meeting these strong, beautiful, resourceful, and caring women, I have no doubt that change is on the way in each of their lives.
Posted by ASAP Africa at 8:57 AM