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!”