WHEN Zimbabwean nurse Mollin Ziwira (50) left the country two decades ago and settled in the United States, her tough background drove her into philanthropy.
Growing up in rural Murehwa in Mashonaland East province, she was raised by her struggling aunt who had no income. Ziwira had a frugal upbringing, relying on her mother’s meagre income she earned working as a maid in the capital, Harare.
Despite the hardships, she pushed hard to change her life, starting off as a cross-border trader until she migrated to the US and settled in Dallas, Texas, where she pursued a career in nursing.
As she worked as a nurse in Dallas, she then set up a non-profit organisation with the aim of giving back to the community back in Murewa where she grew up struggling to eke out a decent living.
Now, through her non-profit organisation, Orphan Guardian Angel (OGA), Ziwira is using the sewing machine and education to eliminate early marriages and drug abuse in her village.
Through this, Ziwira is helping young people create their own sources of income.
Under a tent in her rural home, hand sewing machines are whirring, as birds chirp on the nearby conical hill.
Young people of high school going age, all clad in black and white uniform, have gathered for the first time in the area, as they are being introduced to a new sewing project that has been introduced in their village.
While Ziwira initially introduced the project to Mabvuku, a high-density suburb in Harare, where it had been running over the past years, she had not contemplated bringing the project to her home village.
Last week, she introduced the project to her rural home in Marembo Village, Murehwa and the community is excited about the project.
In addition to the sewing project is also a library. She hopes to enhance young people’s academic knowledge and reading skills, while giving them the much-needed exposure.
The library has an assortment of books with a range of topics, including religion, mathematics and biology.
Meanwhile, the sewing project is already producing desired results.
“One of the students we trained is now doing well and had been doing work for Nyaradzo Funeral Services. We hope to replicate the same with the students we are now helping in Marembo,” Ziwira said.
Every weekend, the participants meet at Ziwira’s homestead to learn basic sewing skills that include cutting cloth and measuring.
For Esnath Petukayi (33), a young mother from the same village, the sewing project has given her a second chance, which she says is going to help her look after her family.
“I am really thankful for the project that has been introduced in our village. We always faced several challenges in the village, but now we are grateful that we now have a source of income to raise our families and children,” Petukayi says.
“This is going to change our lives as we are going to be learning ways of getting income, through projects that we are going to be carrying out. This is a great opportunity for us and we really hope this is going to go through.”
Another mother, Purity Takawira (28), said the project is going to help her raise her young family.
“My child is still young and this project is going to help me through. I just pray for its success as it is going to help us create our own sources of income,” she says.
OGA coordinator Noah Mbeluwe says the project will help stamp out drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies and other social vices.
Zimbabwe’s fight against drugs is currently facing a strain, with a recent policy document by governance institute Accountability Lab Zimbabwe (AL Zimbabwe) showing that the country has only 17 psychiatrists, six clinical psychologists, 13 clinical social workers and 10 clinical occupational therapists.
“We are doing these livelihoods trainings in Marembo, but have been carrying out the same in Rusape, Harare and, now, Murewa. These projects have been a great success in areas we have been operating in. A lot has been happening,” Mbeluwe said.
“For instance, others have been getting into drugs, theft, and others into prostitution. So, at times, they tend to do some things socially. These projects will help these young people get some life skills, so that they cannot be vulnerable.”
Added Mbeluwe: “They will be independent, do their own things and sustainable and having their own sources of income.”
Through OGA, Ziwira has assisted more than 1 000 children since 2010, and has continued to do so over the years, particularly at Murewa’s Zengenene Primary School and Rusape’s Tsanzaguru Primary School.