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Cooperative provides lifeline to women

Masvingo — They are right when they say life begins at 40. At 45 years, Shamiso Taruvinga Musarirwa is living her dream as she is now a member of the Makurumidze Cooperative situated in Ward 2 of Masvingo.

By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu

Makurumidze Cooperative is the brainchild of the World Food Programme (WFP) that was introduced in 2014 in a bid to increase the resilience of the community to drought and to reduce dependency on food assistance so as to be self-sufficient. In July 2014, through this programme, WFP constructed two fish ponds and to date, they have increased them to four. They started doing fish projects and used the projects to start other projects in the cooperative such as poultry, bee keeping and fruit orchards, among other activities.

Gone are the days when women are expected to just stay at home waiting for their husbands to bring food to the table. Tables have turned and often now, it is the other way round.

Taruvinga Musarirwa is the bread winner in her family since her husband is unemployed, taking care of their four children.

Musarirwa is among women who make up Makurumidze Cooperative, a grouping of women engaged in income-generating projects.

Her children are aged 18, 16, nine and the last born is aged two. They attend Mazambara High School and Mahoto Primary School in the area.

“My family looks up to me. I am the breadwinner and I am proud of the person I have become. My kids are now going to school because I am able to pay fees in time,” she said.

“My husband is my husband and that will not change. I respect him because he is the father of my kids and being part of the cooperative does not mean I should not respect him.”

She said her life was better than it was a few years back. Today she claims to have gained knowledge and skills in farming and other self-sustaining projects, which she is applying even at home.

“My poor educational background hasn’t limited me from gaining knowledge. And because of the World Food Programme, I am now empowered and I can share my knowledge with other people,” she said.

“Things have changed for the better. Makurumidze Cooperative has brought change into our lives and we now get income from what we produce as a cooperative. I am not the only one benefitting as the whole community is benefitting.”

Musarirwa is not the only one living her dream. Showing that it is never too late for one to achieve their dreams, at 61 years old, Monica Makuvaza got employed for the first time in her life.

Now 65, Makuvaza has sustained a living out of the Makurumidze Cooperative, which she joined in 2013. Unlike other people of her age, she is not dependant on others.

“I have been able to take care of myself and right now I am taking care of my Grade 5 granddaughter as her father passed on. The Makurumidze Cooperative has been a blessing to me and it has changed my life,” she said.

“No matter your age, it should not limit you and we should use our hands. If only I had known about it long back, my life would have been better.

“When my husband passed on, I was faced with many challenges. My first born son, who back then was working, carried the burden and it was not easy for him.”

Makuvaza encouraged women to utilise whatever opportunities came their way.

“Everything in life needs a trial period. I call upon women to fend for themselves and not to be dependent on their husband as the future is not known,” she said.

What makes Makurumidze Cooperative a life-changing venture is that women dominate the membership although there are also a few men.

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