Go Online, U.S. Ambassador Tells Devoted Binga Women

United States Ambassador Bruce Wharton has encouraged women in Binga to explore online marketing for their products that have positively influenced livelihoods through innovative interventions coordinated by Zubo, a community based organization based in the district.

“With your leadership, you have proven the power of community action, the power of people working together; its a very impressive story you should be very proud of the work you have done,” said Ambassador Wharton after listening to testimonials from members of the grassroots women’s economic empowerment organization. “I would encourage you to also explore marketing your products online so as to expand your markets beyond boundaries and I commit to you that we will continue to look for ways to support you to enable you to further develop and provide for your community.”

The United States diplomat was on a three- day tour of Binga district where several U.S. agencies have funded various economic growth and food assistance programs.

Zubo director Rosemary Cumanzala told Ambassador Wharton and his delegation that her organization had benefited from partnership with various non-governmental organizations to establish and access markets for their products and produce. The organization was established to emancipate women both socially and economically.

Through Zubo, women in Binga have initiated several livelihoods interventions that have seen hundreds of local households and selected children benefiting in different ways.  The women established a fruit drinking making project where they use local knowledge to brew a variety of flavours from the sweet and nutritious baobab and marula fruits that abundant in the district.

Kelesia Munsaka, a member of Zubo said she was able to send her children to school through some of the income generating initiatives supported by the organization. “Life used to be very hard but now the future looks bright,” she explained.

Another woman, Josephine Munkuli started growing rosella and strophantus in 2011. She told Ambassador Wharton that she realizes $300 each year from growing the crops. Speaking through a translator she said she owed her success to her membership of Zubo which has partnered Kaite Trust to provide inputs and education for her and her colleagues.

Abbigal Muleya, a member of Zubo staff was among the 30 young Zimbabwean leaders selected to attend the inaugural Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (YALI). YALI was introduced by President Obama to support an emerging generation of African leaders as they work to drive economic growth, enhance democratic governance and strengthen civil society structures. President Obama cited Abbigal in his speech describing her as a good example of dedication and determination to achieve against odds.

Local Councilor Pathi Siyasai told the ambassador that the area was facing infrastructure challenges like the lack of inadequate classroom for school children.

Ambassador Wharton’s visit to Zubo was briefly interrupted by a group of placard waving individuals who were protesting against U.S. policy in Zimbabwe.  The group sang a song and their leader gave a short speech telling the Ambassador that “our people are not happy about sanctions.”

While acknowledging their right to freedom of expression, Ambassador Wharton praised the amazing work that was demonstrated by Zubo’s Skalenge women’ forum: “they have shown extreme dedication to move their families and communities forward,” said the American diplomat. – ZimPAS © March 23, 2015