70% of the population in the Amathole District live below the poverty line, according to the Integrated Development Plan Review for 2008/09. The situation is aggravated further by low levels of productivity amongst those who are in employment, low levels of literacy and high crime rates. Unemployment rates in the rural areas are high, being at or above70 %.
In areas where the majority of the households are headed by women, BEFSA’s focus has been on working with and empowering disadvantaged women to support their families and the community at large. Through the professional advice and support provided by a UK microcredit specialist and through the expertise held by our project worker, BEFSA has been able to help many women to start and sustain new businesses.
The messages which follow are from some of the women in the current Masambe Programme. They were compiled by Cynthia Mancotywa, BEFSA’s project worker in April 2017.
Philiswa sells frozen meat and soft drinks in her local village. She says, “Please tell BEFSA not to ever leave us. Instead, we are prepared to recruit other women to come and join us in our village.”
Thembakazi sells sweets, crisps and biscuits. She says, “Thank you Masambe, without you I wouldn’t have managed all this. Ever since I joined Masambe all things are possible for me.”
Mhiza sells meat and tracksuits. She says, “Please tell them we love them and we still need them in our lives. There are so many villages that want Masambe and we wish they could get more funding for the people of South Africa, especially this part of the country where it is filled with [people] who do not care about the well-being of poor communities.”
Nolulamo rears and sells pigs and vegetables. She says, “Thank you for coming to our village because we used to hear about Masambe from far away, and when we were finally members of Masambe we now agree with the people that said Masambe changed their lives for the better. I am even more vocal now and I even stand in front of other people and talk development. My self-esteem has been boosted by Masambe.”
Nomathemba sells chickens. She says, “I wouldn’t afford all this if it were not because of Masambe, and I thank Philiswa for inviting me to come to the first meeting and hear about this programme myself. It’s like a dream but believe you me this time around, it is real. Masambe is putting us to another level of development and this time [no one else is] claiming Masambe … our lives are changing for the better in our homes. Thank you Masambe.”
Pelagia established a day care centre. She says, “Thank you South Africa, especially Masambe women from Ntselamanzi location in Alice for welcoming me with open hearts. I was made one of you without being discriminated [against]. It’s a dream come true, I enjoy especially the meetings where Cynthia always gives positive advice to the daily challenges that we often find ourselves because we lack information. Ever since I joined Masambe I found lots of information which I never knew.”
You can donate to BEFSA to help Masambe women continue their good work.