Shurugwi, March 29, 2012: United States Ambassador Charles Ray on Wednesday paid tribute to grandmothers in Shurugwi for setting a good example for the younger generation by running income generation projects, which enabled them to pay school fees for their children and grandchildren.
“I would like to congratulate you on what I have seen here today. I am really happy to be here to celebrate women, especially mothers and grandmothers, who have worked so hard to build this…you have every right to be proud because you have built so much with so very little,” said the U.S. Ambassador. The U.S. diplomat was touring Takaza Garden project, which started in 1997 and benefits over 60 women, mostly grandmothers, in Shurugwi in Midlands province. The U.S. Ambassador’s Self Help fund provided $7,560 to the project in 2010 to purchase garden tools and implements for irrigating the garden.
“You have now taken the whole concept of self help to a new level as you use your proceeds to support orphans and other vulnerable children in your community. This is very important as it demonstrates the spirit of giving back — you who have received a hand up in turn giving a hand up to those who most need it in the community,” said Ray.
Eunice Chipunza, chairperson of the Takaza Garden Project, said the project had over the years benefitted from organizations such as Care International, UNDP, Africare and ZOIC.
“We have 363 families in the community benefitting from the project but we have challenges accessing the mainstream market,” said the 42-year-old mother of three, who also cares for two orphans. She said the organization still had challenges accessing water as work on the borehole was still pending.
Also at the event were representatives from the Zimbabwe Opportunity Industrialisation Centres (ZOIC). “We are hoping to encourage them to start saving money so that we can assist them to open a bank account and enable them to access microfinance, as well as introduce them to new markets,” said Phillip Manyanye Bhowasi, Executive Director of ZOIC.
However, for the U.S. Ambassador, the resilience of the women in maintaining the project over the years was testimony of the special role grandmothers play in the lives of everybody, including the Ambassador himself as he was raised by his grandmother.
“Thanks in large part to this woman (my grandmother) with no education, I was able to spend a twenty year career in the army, rising to the rank of major before retiring, and then starting over again as a diplomat for the past 30 years. I served my country twice as an ambassador during which time I dined with kings, heads of state, presidents — people that my grandmother could not even have imagined. But I owe it all to her,” said the U.S. Ambassador. Early in March, Ambassador Ray also met with grandmothers in Mbare, Harare. Both programs were organized by the U.S. Embassy to mark Women’s History Month, celebrated in March in the U.S. – ZimPAS © March 29, 2012
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