Most of the time, when most significant change stories are discussed, we habitually focus on the direct beneficiaries of the project and in the process lightly brush over those that gain from the program impact in the background. A few weeks ago HOCIC was documenting the Honest Self Help Group of Lubhangwe, Ward 1 in Matobo. As a way of understanding the project impact at a family level, we decided to have a closer look at Sinodiya Makomo; a member of this SHG. Following her intriguing success story, this is where we came across David Ndlovu, Sinodiya’s husband. The 56 year old man who is a builder by profession, gave us a detailed narration of how the Self Help group had positively influenced the couple’s way of life.
‘I used to work in Harare for a long time. That is where I spent most of my youthful moments. Even when I got married to my wife, I was staying in Harare and I had to leave her here in Matobo and go back to work. In 2018 when she told me that she had joined something called a Self Help Group, I thought lightly of it. For quite some time I did not think much of it and thought it was one of those social clubs that women create as a way of “passing” up time.’ Ndlovu said.
‘However, to my surprise when I came home for vacation, my wife was in the process of building a toilet. It was already at an advanced stage and I was impressed at how much she had progressed without asking much input from me. The only thing I contributed towards the toilet construction was the toilet seat lid. She wanted to install a bath tub however we could not afford the ceramic type of tub and hence, I decided to construct one made of plastered cement for her.’ Ndlovu jokingly states.
‘To me, her dedication and independence as a woman prompted me to support all other projects of development that she came with into our homestead. I started paying deeper attention towards this SHG group and realized that not only was it my wife who was doing progressive things, other women within the group were also doing great work within their individual homesteads, hence this was not a family development project only, but rather a community development project. Our community was indirectly benefiting from this group’s innovative ideas. All the ladies in the group had built blair toilets through this project, hence ensuring that our community was healthier as a whole.’ Ndlovu was quick to notice the wholesome development of the group which the Honest SHG members also acknowledge as an intentional component to ensure that all its members progress.
‘When I came back from work again the following holiday, I realized that there were changes around the homestead. The Honest Self Help Group women had bought cast iron pots which they hired out for events around the community. The group had a niche market with very little competition on the pots business; hence their supply sometimes surpassed the demand. They had also bought livestock assets in the form of goats, which they own as a collective. The number of goats has significantly increased, and they have now incorporated sheep and turkeys as well.
The change in lifestyle has definitely had a positive outcome within our family. The relationship between my wife and I is stronger than before. I have since left Harare and I am now permanently based home. The financial burden has been lessened on me as the man of the house; I am now able to be closer to my family with ease, knowing that I am not the only bread winner of the family. I know in case something happens to me, my wife is empowered enough to take care of our children. My mental state as a man has significantly improved. A happy man breeds a happy family and that is what I am right now. All this is because she took a decisive stance to join other women and create a Self Help Group.
David Ndlovu and Sinodiya Makomo’s situation is a win situation for the program’s “ We care” component that looks at curtailing the issue of unpaid care work and ensuring women take up decisive roles within the family unit. It has ensured that this family unit is strengthened through the empowerment of the woman, and the man has played an integral part in this process through supporting her.