Tuesday, 31 May 2016

From Orphanage to Boardroom

Orphanages are often portrayed by the media as grim institutions and the last lender of hope for abandoned children without a traceable family keen on caring for their welfare.

But for Anna Mandizha-Ncube, growing up in an orphanage built her resilience against the harsh realities of life, while developing her love for people at community level.Today she has become a community leader of repute, working with disadvantaged youth and women in Hwange.

She is the executive director of Buwalo-Matalikilo Trust, a Hwange-based civic rights organisation that deals with sexual reproductive health issues among the youth.

It also tackles the issue of gender based violence, which remains problematic especially in Hwange where patriarchy is still entrenched in the communities, giving men total rights over women.
From Orphanage to Boardroom
"I love community work and working with the disadvantaged, a passion that developed while I was living in an orphanage," she said recently.

Having spent the better part of her childhood among strangers, who were later to become her family, Anna says her experiences defined and shaped her appreciation of people in their diverse differences.

Reflecting on her painful childhood and early adulthood, Anna says she managed to build on that to carve a niche in community work, which she describes as "fulfilling".

"My passion lies in community work, where I am able to bring smiles to people's faces mainly the youth after I have assisted them in making important decisions, especially on reproductive health related issues," she enthused.

Registered in 2015, Buwalo-Matalikilo Trust offers a holistic approach on health related issues to more than 2 000 families in remote parts of Hwange including the inaccessible Ndumi Chenga, were health facilities remain a dream.

Anna says she decided to register the trust having realized the yawning gap in the provision of health facilities and information in the district, particularly the youth after she relocated to Hwange from Harare.

Boasting of 15 years experience in community work acquired through working for World Vision Zimbabwe and several other organizations involved in community initiatives, Anna knew the time was right to give her hand in community work.

She started by operating from home and with own resources in 2014. As the response to her work grew, she realized that she needed to formalize her operations.

That decision gave birth to Buwalo-Matalikilo Trust, which means giving a foundation in Nambya and Tonga respectively.

And since its formation the organization has become a beacon of hope for thousands of families in Hwange and surrounding communities.

"Through various programmes that we hold for the youth and a gender transformation programme, we are bringing the voice and eyes of human dignity to the youth whom we mostly work with in our programmes.

Anna has taken aptitude for community work and combined it with her deep values of human respect and integrity to create a new kind of civic education with an element of philanthropy.

She however admits that it has not been easy.

"When I was living in the orphanage, I remember telling myself that whatever was to happen to me in life, I was supposed to make the best of it.

"I have always believed in my capacity, and I knew I would somehow make it in my life," she proudly declared.

Armed with that self-belief and conviction, Anna volunteered her services with World Vision in several community developmental projects.

It was during her internship with the organization that she found developmental work to be quite fulfilling, further strengthening her resolute to become a community worker.

Equipped with the experience she was able to impart it at Mashambanzou Trust and Connect, before strategising the formation of the trust she is now heading.
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