"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Reaching out to communities who have self-initiated programmes and clubs because of an internal motivation to change their present circumstances and therefore their future is an inspiration, it motivates us to keep working despite the regular potholes and ditches in the road. There is a deep resilience in the people of Zimbabwe and to work with them and learn from them is an aide to development of change and spreading resilience.
By reaching out to others the Friendship Bench hopes to create paths back to it, through word of mouth and face to face connection with services being done with no expectations and no fees, we wish to create relationships based on care, trust, safety, respect and unconditional acceptance.
As the Friendship Bench we don't just want to give training, we want to learn on the ground. We like working with people who despite challenges are working for change. These people are inspirational and full of wisdom.
ZeeBAGs are made from recycled plastic by 11 women living with HIV and chronic mental illness. The proceeds of the bags enable the women to feed their families, pay for school fees and cover the cost of their medication. They also receive peer counseling by volunteer psychiatrists and psychologists and then they received skills in hosting their own groups in the community.
ZEEbags connects with the Friendship Bench as a post therapy support group. Once clients have gone through their individual sessions sitting on the Friendship Bench they get referred to a group called Circle Kubatana Tose, translated into "together holding hands", in this group sits one of the original ZEEbag women (there are 11 of them) and they pass on their experience with mental health problems aswell as their crocheting skill and are living proof that there is a way back to healthy wellbeing and living stable even with a mental illness.
Hygiene club Mbare block
Clean living Mbare
This group of ladies is self established and they work daily to improve their mental and physical wellbeing
This is the latest group of life changers the Friendship Bench has had the privileged of meeting. These are the Hygiene Clean Up women of an Mbare block. One of the members has been through the Friendhsip Bench and told us about what she was doing to help her kufungisisa (anxiety and depression), what she said she was kept busy cleaning and it made her feel proud of living and like she had a purpose everyday. The group is made of elderly ladies, all who are local residents and waned to make sure no typhoid or cholera broke out. They decided to get together every day and do the cleaning, despite having the bare minimum products to do so.
Many of the ladies are unemployed so the cleaning helps them keep busy and gives them a sense of productivity which helps their mental health.
We hope to help these amazing women keep growing and for the time being we are using products that are given through donation but the dream is to bring in someone willing to teach the ladies how to make their own products which are environmentally friendly and besides cleaning for themselves they can sell the products to make an income. If you are willing or know of someone who would like to talk with the Hygiene Clean Up women of Mbare then please send us an e-mail so we can network and develop a sustainable way of life.
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CREDIT: Rainer Kwiotek