Mama Thabisile Sithebe, once labelled a "poor, young irrelevant statistical nobody" in a poverty pocket in KZN, is today a woman of dignity and resources who is a change agent in her community. Her smile is warm and her eyes sparkle as she tells her story:
“I joined the Umazisize Women groups in 2010. I was then a member of the uThandolwethu Group (the name means “our love”, or “the thing we love/like”). I was a very insecure young lady, with no confidence in myself. My involvement as a single parent mother, with small children, meant so much to me. I got support, so badly needed in my situation. I just grew in confidence in myself, my own potential and in God, through whom I realized , nothing was impossible!
Then our group leader, Thokozephi Madondo, passed away, and I was elected as group leader. This was a personal crisis in my life! How could I, of all people, lead a group? I then identified with the same story of Moses, who led the Jews, although he started off being unsure of himself. And my confidence came! I identified my own potential.
I was given the opportunity to represent my group at a Life Line meeting on HIV in Durban. Through the involvement of Dr Lamula, we started a support group in our community for people who were HIV positive. Now I can help people of my community who come to me, with dignity and confidence. HIV is no longer a threat, but we can overcome it. I am now employed in my community as a person managing a feeding scheme for vulnerable children. I can now support my own children.”
Today Thabisile is a Mama in her community - a term of respect in the Zulu Nation. She is the community facilitator of a women's group at KwaNomoya, Sahlumbe, on the Weenen side of Msinga. Mama Thabisile ends her story with the words: “Phambili Mazisize!” “Forward Mazisize!”
Our team dared to dream bigger, so we took the next step, and made contact with the local Department of Social Development, through whom we were able to register as a NPO. Because our CLA is involved in local community structures, we applied for funding to build a child development center. And we were granted it! The next hurdle was land, but another community member donated land to us. It's now May 2016, and we are proud and thankful to report that the building project is almost completed.
Who would have dreamed that our ideas, prayers and community could come together like this? It's all about eyes to see, hearts to hope, and hands to work together.