Women with determination

Ireen Kumbe got pregnant at 16 in Kalomo district, dropped out of grade 9 and got married; at 27 with 4 children from her marriage, she got divorced. But at 33 now she is up in arms ‘avenging’ her past miseries. She founded the Ireen Foundation in Choma.

“He (husband) told me that he will take me to school after I give birth but it was all lies. When he divorced me in 2002, I was so miserable and I was advised to find something to do so that I can move on”, she says.

With the heart of every caring mother, Ireen started cleaning Patients’ Wards at Kalomo District Hospital. At Church she spear headed the idea of sharing problems among women for possible solutions. And what started as women talk spread to income generating activities to help women help them selves.

In 2004 Health Communication Partnership sent her to Livingstone for training in Facilitation and Performing Art. With her new skills, she intensified her work of counselling women and bringing them into women clubs in which they share various income generating skills like weaving and sewing. But the young girls in Night clubs for a living were her major worry.

“It reminded me of getting married at an early age and later divorced. I went into so much misery. So I said, these girls can also get in the same trap and may be even worse problems for sleeping around. But I didn’t know how to convince them”.

Whilst in this quagmire of being at pains with her challenges, a team of Gama Cuulu Radio Serial Drama visited Choma to recruit Peer Educators and Drama groups to be reinforcing the Radio Drama messages in communities. And Ireen was one of the Peer Educators, who after training got recruited.

“Gama Cuulu really helped the whole situation very much. People started seeing sense in what we are doing because they would listen to the drama on radio and when we go in the communities to talk to members, they would listen to us and more people started to join us. Even some of the young girls opted to stop going into Night clubs and joined us”.
On June 17, 2008 The Ireen Foundation Club (IFOC) was formed in the overspill compound in Choma district as a result of Gama Cuulu (MARCH) peer education activities.

The 30 member group’s purpose is to promote community response to HIV pandemic through community dialogue. The group aims to help the members be involved in income generation activities to mitigate the impact of HIV in the overspill community.

With each day bringing more members, the club has grown to four branches within the overspill compound: Machinda youth club, Tusinte Kachacha club, Luhibo club, Zimbabwe compound and Over spill B club.

“We are many now and my home has become too small for us as a meeting place. So we usually meet under a tree at the headman’s place. But our major problem is money. We need money so that we can do some of the activities we have planned like chicken rearing, tailoring, gardening and brick making”.

No comments:

Post a Comment