SIPHATHISIWE Sibanda, a third year student at Lupane University, stole the thunder at the NewsDay People’s Choice Awards ceremony attended by Graça Machel in Harare on Friday night.
She was awarded the Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) chairman’s special award. The annual awards, now in their second year, are held to recognise ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their communities by providing visionary leadership.
“The people who make a difference to others in the community, who give selflessly for no financial gain, who practise the spirit of volunteerism and live a life of servant leadership . . . these are the people we are celebrating,” said AMH chairman Trevor Ncube.
Machel, wife of iconic African elder statesman and former South African president Nelson Mandela, was the guest of honour at the ceremony.
But it was Siphathisiwe who stole the show.
She looks after people living with HIV and Aids in her community in Njube, Bulawayo, whom she regularly visits, cleaning their houses and doing the laundry. She gives them the love and attention they need and goes to the extent of cleaning their wounds using only gloves and soap.
She says her vision is to see people living with HIV and Aids having proper medical attention and getting healed.
She says she wants them to be empowered to the extent of believing that God is there in their sickness.
Siphathisiwe’s work touched everyone who attended the ceremony to the extent that some companies and individuals offered to help her in her work by donating money and goods.
In her speech at the ceremony, Machel warned governments in Africa of a bombshell if they continued to alienate people from their resources for the benefit of a few in politics.
Ncube said the corporate world should come in to assist the underprivileged in their communities. He saluted the community builders for using limited resources to change people’s lives.
“Those winning awards this evening teach us that in a corrupt-ridden country, we have in you the promise of a grassroots force for change against greed, corruption and selfishness. That politicians are not what make this country great but everyday people like you who make sacrifices for others and their communities,” he said.