Kuziva Zimunya reports from Zimbabwe on how communications skills can empower people to improve their lives
Progressio believes in what I believe in – capacity building at grassroots level. I was inspired by Progressio’s approach to working with the poor in communities.
In my previous jobs I had documented numerous marginalised rural communities and their determination to overcome the challenges that kept them poor. I had seen rural women being trained and building toilets for their households, restoring dignity to their families. I had seen children orphaned by HIV establishing nutrition gardens and feeding their siblings.
I wanted to share my skills with the poor, so they increase their capacity to communicate issues that affect them and transform their lives.
In my role with Progressio, I enjoy the unique opportunities to integrate information technology into development work. I enjoy most when I train older staff members from partner organisations to use computers and the internet to do tasks that would otherwise have taken them a lot of time. Their ‘aha moments’, accompanied with generous smiles, gives me so much pleasure. (Of course, I understand, they were born ‘BC’ – before computers.)
It’s difficult to rate which moment tops the list of most exciting, but one moment crosses my mind. Late last year, I was scheduled to train staff (mainly truck drivers) from the National Employment Council for the Transport Operating Industry (NECTOI) on using Windows 7 operating system. About 25 participants had signed up and I wondered how I was going to handle the training. I knew the organisation had at most three laptops.
Innovation and zeal
When I got to the training venue my counterpart [colleague at NECTOI] had set up about seven desktop computers in the boardroom. Cables were all over the floor. I never thought he could be so resourceful.
Mr Rogers, one of the managers, was touched by such innovation and the zeal of the participants to proceed with the training despite inadequate resources. He asked my counterpart to compile a list of all the people who needed laptops, so he can arrange purchasing. It was an exciting moment to see a very basic training making an unprecedented impact, i.e. the management of NECTOI buying laptops for their staff.
Telling the world
All the four partner organisations [in the Comic Relief funded project Hear Our Voices – Speak Out for HIV and AIDS Services] now have database driven websites, which they update themselves. They can now tell the world their own stories and advocate for change.
Some of the partners, for example the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children, have managed to collaborate with regional partners who have contacted them through their website.
Increased visibility through their websites has also helped the partner organisations with their fundraising efforts.
Kuziva works as an Information Technology, Documentation and Communications Adviser alongside various partner organisations in Zimbabwe, under the Comic Relief funded project Hear Our Voices – Speak Out for HIV and AIDS Services.